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Carl?  Cburdb 







REV,  J,  N,  S! 


Cburcb  Classics* 


ST.    IGN  ATI  US, 


BY    THE 

REV.  J.  H.  SRAWLEY,  D.D., 


VOL.  I. 











V,  \ 

1  There's  no  lack,  neither,  of  God's  saints  and  kingst 
That  shake  the  ashes  of  the  grave  aside 
From  their  calm  locks,  and  undiscomfited 
Look  stedfast  truths  against  Time's  changing  mask.' 

E.  B.  B. 


THE  present  translation  of  the  epistles  of  St.  Ignatius 
is  intended  to  set  before  English  readers,  in  an 
accessible  form,  the  writings  of  one  of  the  most  impor 
tant  characters  in  the  Church  history  of  the  period 
succeeding  the  age  of  the  Apostles.  In  these  epistles 
we  have  the  key  to  the  right  understanding  of  the 
character  of  the  Church  at  the  beginning  of  the  second 
century.  The  two  facts  to  which  they  bear  witness  are, 
on  the  one  hand,  the  significance  of  the  Incarnation  for 
Christians  of  that  generation  as  the  central  truth  of 
Christianity,  and,  on  the  other,  the  importance  attached 
to  the  visible  unity  of  the  Church  as  expressed  in  the 
organization  of  the  Christian  societies  under  bishops, 
presbyters  and  deacons.  The  striking  personality  of  the 
writer  of  the  epistles,  and  the  controversy  which  has 
gathered  round  them,  combine  to  make  them  one  of  the 
most  interesting  products  of  early  Christian  times. 

Bishop  Lightfoot's  great  work  (Ignatius  and  Polycarp, 
1885)  has  exhaustively  treated  of  most  of  the  critical 
questions  which  are  connected  with  the  text  and  the 
exposition  of  the  epistles.  The  present  writer  has  made 
that  work  his  chief  guide,  and  has  rarely  ventured,  in 
the  interpretation  of  passages,  to  depart  from  the  views 


expressed  in  it.  On  the  nature  of  the  heresies  attacked 
in  the  epistles,  however,  he  has  adopted  in  the  main  the 
conclusions  of  Dr.  Hort  in  his  Judaistic  Christianity. 
The  articles  on  Ignatius  by  Dr.  Harnack  in  the  Expositor 
for  1885  and  1886,  as  well  as  the  same  writer's  treatment 
of  the  epistles  in  his  Chronologic  der  Altchristlichen 
Litteratur^  have  also  been  consulted.  The  notes  of 
Zahn  on  the  epistles  have  supplied  much  useful  matter, 
while  for  the  external  history  of  the  period  Professor 
Ramsay's  Church  in  the  Roman  Empire  has  been  found 
invaluable.  In  treating  of  the  theology  of  Ignatius  the 
writer  has  found  much  that  is  suggestive  in  the  able 
monograph  of  Von  der  Goltz  (Texte  und  Untersuch- 
ungen,  Bd.  xii.),  although  he  has  not  always  been  able  to 
subscribe  to  the  author's  conclusions. 

The  writer  is  indebted  to  Dr.  Swete,  Regius  Professor 
of  Divinity  at  Cambridge,  for  much  kind  advice  un 
grudgingly  given  ;  to  the  committee  of  the  S.P.C.K.  for 
the  interest  they  have  shown  in  the  work,  and  for  some 
useful  criticisms;  to  the  Rev.  W.  L.  E.  Parsons,  of 
Selwyn  College,  who  has  read  through  the  translation, 
and  to  others. 


A  few  slight  changes  and  additions  have  been  made 
both  in  the  introduction  and  in  the  notes ;  but  in  its 
main  features  the  present  edition  is  a  reprint  of  the 




1.  THE      LITERARY      CONTROVERSY      UPON      THE 


2.  GENUINENESS  AND   DATE  .  .  -14 

3.  ST.   IGNATIUS  THE  MARTYR      .  .  .21 

4.  ST.    IGNATIUS   AS   A  TEACHER  .  .  -25 

I.   THE   EPISTLE   TO   THE   EPHESIANS  .      40 

II.    THE   EPISTLE   TO   THE   MAGNESIANS  ,       S9 

III.    THE   EPISTLE   TO   THE   TRALLIANS  >         I 




AROUND  the  letters  bearing  the  name  of  St.  Ignatius 
there  has  been  waged  a  literary  controversy  that  has 
extended  from  the  time  of  the  revival  of  learning  to  the 
present  century.  The  subject  is  of  special  interest  to 
Englishmen,  as  the  discussion  of  the  genuineness  of  these 
letters  found  a  place  in  the  religious  controversies  of 
England  in  the  seventeenth  century,  and  the  decision  of 
the  question  has  on  three  occasions  been  associated  with 
the  names  of  English  scholars,  /.  e.  Archbishop  Ussher 
and  Bishop  Pearson  in  the  seventeenth  century,  and 
Bishop  Lightfoot  in  the  nineteenth  century.  During  the 
Middle  Ages  there  were  current  in  Europe  seventeen 
letters  connected  with  the  name  of  St.  Ignatius.  Four 
of  these  embrace  the  spurious  correspondence  with  St. 
John  and  the  Virgin.  They  include — 

(i)  Two  letters  from  Ignatius  to  St.  John. 

(ii)  A  letter  from  Ignatius  to  the  Virgin. 

(iii)  A  letter  from  the  Virgin  to  Ignatius. 

The  letters  only  exist  in  Latin,  and  were  most  pro- 


bably  composed  in  that  language.  An  attempt  has  been 
made  to  claim  the  authority  of  St.  Bernard  in  support  of 
their  genuineness,  because  in  one  of  his  sermons  he  says 
that  Ignatius  '  saluteth  a  certain  Mary  in  several 
epistles,  which  he  wrote  to  her,  as  Christ-bearer.'  But 
the  word  guandam,1  '  a  certain  (one)/  shows  that  he  is 
speaking  of  some  less  famous  person  than  the  Virgin,  the 
reference  being,  doubtless,  to  Mary  of  Cassobola,  to 
whom  one  of  the  letters  of  the  Long  Form  is  addressed. 
As  the  object  of  the  forger  was  undoubtedly  to  do 
honour  to  the  Virgin,  Lightfoot  is  inclined  to  connect 
the  letters  with  the  outburst  of  Mariolatry  which  took 
place  in  the  eleventh  and  following  centuries.  The 
forgery  was  speedily  disposed  of  as  soon  as  the  revival 
of  the  study  of  antiquity  began. 

The  remaining  thirteen  epistles,  known  as  the  Longer 
Form,  include  a  longer  version  of  the  seven  letters  of  the 
present  collection,  together  with  six  additional  letters,  i.  e. 
Mary  of  Cassobola  to  Ignatius,  Ignatius  to  Mary  of 
Cassobola,  to  the  Tarsians,  to  the  Philippians,  to  the 
Antiochenes,  and  to  Hero.  This  Longer  Form  is  con 
tained  in  several  Greek  MSS.  and  also  in  a  Latin 
version  of  which  the  MSS.  are  numerous.  The  six 
additional  letters  are  also  found  attached  to  the  seven 
letters  of  the  present  collection  not  only  in  the  Greek 
MSS.,  but  also  in  the  Latin,  Syriac,  Armenian  and  Coptic 
translations.  The  Latin  version  was  printed  in  1498, 
and  was  followed  in  1557  by  the  publication  of  the 
Greek  text.  Neither  of  these  editions  contained  the 
letter  of  Mary  of  Cassobola  to  Ignatius,  which  appeared, 
however,  in  subsequent  editions. 

1  The  omission  of  this  word  in  some  MSS.  assisted  the  miscon 
ception  of  the  passage.  But  there  is  no  doubt  that  it  forms  a  part 
of  the  true  text. 


It  was  not  long  before  the  suspicions  of  students  were 
aroused.  They  could  not  fail  to  be  struck  by  the  wide 
divergence  of  the  text  of  Ignatius  in  the  current  editions 
from  the  quotations  of  early  Christian  writers,  such  as 
Eusebius  (c.  A.D.  310—325)  and  Theodoret  (A.D.  446). 
It  was  noticed  further  that  Eusebius  only  makes  mention 
of  seven  letters,  and  that  no  others  but  these  are  referred 
to  by  Christian  writers  for  some  considerable  period  after 
the  time  of  Eusebius.  Internal  evidence  confirmed  these 
suspicions  by  pointing  out  obvious  anachronisms  and 
mistakes  in  the  letters.  At  the  same  time  the  prejudices 
of  Protestant  writers,  and  especially  of  those  who  favoured 
Presbyterian  views,  were  excited  against  the  letters,  be 
cause  their  presentation  of  Church  order  conflicted  with 
their  own  views.  On  the  one  hand  it  was  recognized  by 
the  Jesuit  Petavius,  that  the  epistles  were  interpolated, 
and  on  the  other  hand  many  Protestant  writers  were 
prepared  to  believe  that  they  included  some  genuine 
letters  of  Ignatius.  Vedelius,  a  professor  at  Geneva, 
published  an  edition  of  the  letters  in  1623,  in  which  he 
attempted  to  separate  the  genuine  from  the  spurious 
letters.  The  seven  letters  mentioned  by  Eusebius  were 
placed  in  one  class,  and  the  remaining  five,  which  he 
regarded  as  spurious,  were  formed  into  a  second  class. 
He  also  maintained  that  the  seven  letters  contained 
interpolations,  and  in  proof  of  this  he  showed  that  the 
interpolator  had  made  use  of  extracts  from  the  Apostolical 

The  genuineness  of  the  Long  Form  was  commonly 
accepted  by  English  writers  of  eminence  before  Ussher's 
time,  and  we  find  the  letters  in  that  form  quoted  by 
Hooker  and  Bishop  Andrewes.  The  question,  however, 
was  prominently  brought  forward  by  the  controversies  of 
the  day.  Episcopacy  was  being  vehemently  attacked  by 


the  Puritans.  This  attack  reached  its  climax  in  the 
famous  Smectymnuus  controversy  (so  called  from  the 
initials  of  the  names  of  the  five  Presbyterian  divines),  in 
which  Bishop  Hall  defended,  and  the  Presbyterians 
attacked  the  government  of  the  Church  by  bishops.  In 
this  controversy  Ussher  was  induced  to  take  a  part.  In 
his  pamphlet  The  Original  of  Bishops  and  Metropolitans, 
he  made  use  of  the  evidence  of  the  Ignatian  epistles, 
carefully  confining,  however,  his  quotations  to  the 
passages  in  which  the  interpolated  version  agrees  with 
the  genuine  text.  Ussher's  pamphlet  was  replied  to  by 
the  poet  Milton  in  his  treatise  Of  Prelatical  Episcopacy, 
published  in  1641.  He  attacks  the  genuineness  of  the 
Ignatian  epistles  and  says,  'To  what  end  then  should 
they  cite  him  as  authentic  for  episcopacy,  when  they 
cannot  know  what  is  authentic  of  him  ? '  But  Ussher 
had  already  engaged  in  the  task  of  rescuing  the  genuine 
epistles  from  the  interpolated  and  spurious  additions  of 
the  current  text.  He  had  examined  the  quotations  of 
Ignatius  found  in  the  writings  of  Robert  Grosseteste, 
Bishop  of  Lincoln  (c.  A.D.  1250),  and  two  other  English 
writers,  John  Tyssington  and  William  Wodeford,  who 
wrote  in  the  fourteenth  century  and  were  members  of 
the  Franciscan  house  at  Oxford,  to  which  Grosseteste  left 
his  books.  These  quotations,  he  found,  differed  from 
the  common  text  of  Ignatius  and  agreed  with  the  quota 
tions  found  in  Eusebius  and  Theodoret.  This  led  him 
to  conclude  that  there  might  exist  somewhere  in  England 
manuscripts  containing  this  purer  text  of  the  epistles. 
The  result  was  the  discovery  of  two  Latin  MSS.  of  the 
epistles.  The  first  of  these  was  found  in  the  library  of 
Gonville  and  Caius  College,  Cambridge.  This  MS.,  of 
which  Ussher  procured  a  transcript,  was  written  by 
Walter  Crome,  D.D.,  a  former  Fellow,  being  completed 


in  the  year  1441,  as  we  learn  from  a  note  in  Crome's 
own  handwriting,  while  another  note  in  the  same  hand 
on  a  fly-leaf  states  that  the  MS.  was  presented  to  the 
College  in  A.D.  1444  'on  the  feast  of  St.  Hugh/ 

The  second  MS.  came  from  the  library  of  Richard 
Montague  or  Montacute,  Bishop  of  Norwich.  It  has, 
however,  disappeared  since  Ussher's  time,  although  we 
possess  a  collation  of  its  readings  contained  between  the 
lines  or  in  the  margin  of  Ussher's  transcript  of  the  Gains 
MS.  This  transcript  is  now  in  the  library  of  Dublin 

Of  these  two  MSS.  the  second  appears  to  be  the 
earlier  and  the  more  accurate.  In  fact  Lightfoot  thinks 
that  it  closely  represents  the  version  as  it  came  from  the 
translator.  Ussher  found  that  the  quotations  of  Ignatius 
in  the  works  of  Grosseteste  were  taken  from  the  Latin 
version  preserved  in  these  two  MSS.,  and  further  study  led 
him  to  believe  that  Grosseteste  was  himself  the  translator. 
Such  a  view  is  consistent  with  the  interest  shown  by  the 
great  Bishop  of  Lincoln  in  Greek  learning  and  in  the 
translation  of  Greek  authors.  Moreover  we  know  that 
among  the  books  of  which  Grossteste  caused  a  trans 
lation  to  be  made  were  the  writings  of  Dionysius  the 
Areopagite.  These  appear  frequently  bound  up  in  the 
same  MS.  as  the  Ignatian  epistles.  In  recent  times 
there  has  been  more  direct  confirmation  of  Ussher's 
view.  This  is  supplied  by  a  note  in  a  fourteenth-century 
MS.  in  the  library  at  Tours,  attributing  the  Latin  trans 
lation  to  Grosseteste. 

•Ussher  published  his  shorter  Latin  text  in  1644.  But 
as  yet  the  Greek  text  corresponding  to  this  shorter  Latin 
version  had  not  appeared.  This  link  was  supplied  two 
years  later  by  the  publication  at  Amsterdam  by  Isaac 
Voss  of  the  Greek  text  of  six  out  of  the  seven  letters,  the 


epistle  to  the  Romans  being  missing.  This  Greek  text 
was  based  upon  an  eleventh-century  MS.  in  the  Medicean 
library  at  Florence.  Finally  the  Greek  text  of  the  missing 
epistle  to  the  Romans  was  published  by  Ruinart  in  1689 
from  a  MS.  of  the  tenth  century,  now  in  the  National 
Library  at  Paris.  The  MS.  contains  the  Greek  Acts  of  the 
martyrdom  of  Ignatius,  and  the  epistle  to  the  Romans  is 
incorporated  in  them.  Ussher's  labours  thus  enabled 
students  to  recognize  the  genuine  epistles  of  Ignatius,  and 
to  separate  from  these  the  interpolated  portions,  as  well 
as  the  spurious  epistles,  found  in  the  Longer  Form. 

But  the  publication  by  Voss  of  the  Greek  text  of  the 
seven  epistles  led  to  a  new  controversy  set  on  foot  by 
the  French  Puritans,  who  attacked  the  epistles  because 
of  the  support  which  they  lent  to  episcopacy.  The  most 
formidable  opponent  was  Daille,  whose  work  appeared 
in  1666.  This  new  attack  was  concentrated  upon  the 
seven  letters  as  published  by  Voss.  The  attack  was 
met,  and  the  genuineness  of  the  letters  vindicated  by 
Bishop  Pearson,  who  wrote  his  Vindidce  Ignatiance  in 

The  next  important  date  in  the  Ignatian  controversy 
was  the  year  1845,  when  Canon  Cureton  published  a 
Syriac  version  of  the  epistles  to  St.  Polycarp,  the 
Ephesians,  and  the  Romans.  The  three  epistles  con 
tained  in  this  version  appear  in  a  much  shorter  form  than 
is  found  in  the  Greek  text  and  Latin  version.  A  frag 
ment  of  the  epistle  to  the  Trallians  is  incorporated  in 
the  epistle  to  the  Romans,  but  none  of  the  other  epistles 
appear  in  the  collection.  The  text  of  Cureton's  edition 
was  based  upon  two  MSS.  in  the  British  Museum.  The 
former  of  these  two  MSS.  dates  from  the  sixth  century. 
It  was  purchased  by  Archdeacon  Tattam  from  the 
convent  of  St.  Mary  Deipara  in  the  Nitrian  desert  in 


1839.  The  second  MS.  dates  from  the  seventh  or 
eighth  century,  and  was  brought  from  Egypt  by  Arch 
deacon  Tattam  in  1842.  Cureton  maintained  that  these 
three  epistles  alone  represented  the  genuine  Ignatius, 
that  the  Vossian  collection  contained  these  three  in  an 
interpolated  form,  and  that  the  remaining  four  letters  of 
the  Vossian  collection  were  forgeries.  This  rekindled 
the  controversy.  Dr.  Christopher'Wordsworth,  afterwards 
Bishop  of  Lincoln,  declared  the  newly-discovered  version 
to  be  an  epitome  of  the  genuine  letters  made  by  an 
Eutychian  heretic.  This  led  Cureton  to  a  fuller  treat 
ment  of  the  question.  He  had  meanwhile  discovered  an 
additional  MS.  of  the  three  epistles,  brought,  like  the 
first-named,  from  the  convent  of  St.  Mary  Deipara,  and 
dating  from  at  least  the  ninth  century.  He  now  published 
his  great  work  Corpus  Ignatianum  (London,  1849), 
which  contains  a  full  treatment  of  the  whole  question. 
Cureton's  view  was  supported  by  Bunsen  and  several 
eminent  scholars.  But  it  has  failed  to  hold  its  ground. 
Apart  from  the  fact  that  the  seven  letters  of  the  Vossian 
collection  were  plainly  known  to  Eusebins  and  Theodoret, 
they  exhibit  a  perfect  unity  of  authorship  and  style 
throughout.  Cureton's  theory  requires  us  to  suppose 
that  the  interpolator  was  able  to  reproduce  in  his  additions 
to  the  letters  the  most  subtle  characteristics  of  language 
and  grammar.  A  similar  difficulty  occurs  when  we 
examine  the  relation  of  Cureton's  Syriac  version  to  the 
Syriac  version  of  the  seven  letters.  The  one  is  plainly 
derived  from  the  other,  and  it  is  far  more  probable  that 
the  Curetonian  Syriac  version  is  an  abridged  form  of  the 
Syriac  version  of  the  seven  letters,  than  that  the  latter 
is  an  expansion  of  the  former. 

The  works  of  Zahn  (Ignatius  von  Antiochien,    1873) 
and   of   Bishop   Lightfoot    (Apostolic  Fathers,  Part  II., 


Ignatius  and  Poly  carp,  1885)  have  convincingly  demon 
strated  the  genuineness  of  the  seven  letters  in  the  form 
edited  by  Voss,.as  against  the  claims  of  the  Curetonian 
letters,  and  this  conclusion  has  been  generally  accepted 
by  modern  scholars. 

The  author  of  the  Long  Form  probably  wrote  in 
Syria  in  the  latter  half  of  the  fourth  century.  He  has 
been  identified  by  Harnnck  and  Funk  with  the  compiler 
of  the  Apostolic  Constitutions  (see  Brightman,  Liturgies 
JE.  and  W.,  p.  xxvii  f.).  His  slightly  Arian  tone  suggests 
that  he  wished  to  present,  in  the  name  of  a  primitive 
father,  a  conciliatory  statement  of  doctrine  to  which  men 
of  all  parties  might  assent  (Lightfcot). 

The  Curetonian  Syriac  version  is  probably  due  to  the 
careless  abridgment  of  the  letters  by  some  scribe,  and 
represents  *  neither  epitome  nor  extract,  but  something 
between  the  two.' J  Lightfoot  is  inclined  to  assign  it  to 
the  sixth  century. 


*  THERE  are  no  epistles  in  early  Christian  literature 
whose  existence  receives  such  early  and,  excellent  attest 
ation  as  does  that  of  the  Ignatian  epistles  from  the  epistle 
of  Polycarp  '  (Harnack,  Chronologic,  p.  400).  The  epistle 
of  Polycarp  to  the  Philippians  was  written  some  few 
weeks  after  the  letters  of  Ignatius,  and  before  the  news 
of  the  martyrdom  of  Ignatius  had  reached  Smyrna.  It 
contains  two  references  to  Ignatius  (cc.  9,  13).  In  the 
latter  passage  the  writer  says  :  *  The  letters  of  Ignatius 
sent  to  us  by  him,  and  all  the  rest  which  we  had  by  us, 
we  have  sent  to  you,  as  you  enjoined.  They  are  attached 
to  this  letter.'  This  description  corresponds  with  our 
1  Lightfoot,  I.  p.  325. 


present  collection.  Two  letters  were  addressed  to 
Smyrna,  one  to  the  Church,  the  other  to  Polycarp. 
Four  others  were  written  from  Smyrna.  The  bearer  of 
the  letter  to  the  Philadelphians,  which  was  written  from 
Troas,  would  probably  pass  through  Smyrna.  Thus  it 
would  be  possible  for  copies  of  all  the  letters  to  be  in 
Polycarp's  possession,  and  the  interchange  of  letters, 
which  was  already  common  in  the  churches  in  St.  Paul's 
day  (Col.  iv.  16),  would  render  the  request  of  the 
Philippians  and  Polycarp's  compliance  natural.  See 
further,  Lightfoot,  vol.  i.  pp.  336,  423  f. 

St.  Irenseus  (c.  180  A.D.)  quotes  from  Rom.  4.  See 
v.  28.  4 :  'As  one  of  our  own  people  said,  when  con 
demned  to  the  wild  beasts  on  account  of  his  testimony 
towards  GOD,  "  I  am  GOD'S  grain,  and  I  am  ground  by 
the  teeth  of  wild  beasts,  that  I  may  be  found  pure 
bread." ' 

Lightfoot  and  Harnack  both  refer  to  passages  in 
Clement  of  Alexandria  (c.  190 — 210),  which  they  think 
point  to  an  acquaintance  with  these  epistles. 

Origen,  before  the  middle  of  the  third  century,  shows 
clearly  a  knowledge  of  these  epistles  and  their  author. 
Thus  in  de  Orat.  20,  he  appropriates  the  language  of 
Rom.  3 :  *'  Nothing  that  is  visible  is  good."  This, 
however,  may  have  been  a  proverbial  expression.  But 
in  two  passages  he  claims  to  be  quoting  the  very  words 
of  Ignatius — 

(i)  In  the  Prologue  to  the  Commentary  on  the 
Song  of  Songs  (extant  in  the  version  of  Rufinus)  he 
says  :  *  I  remember  that  some  one  of  the  saints,  Ignatius 
by  name,  said  of  Christ,  "My  Love  is  crucified,"  nor 
do  I  think  him  deserving  of  censure  for  this.'  See 
Rom.  7. 

(ii)  In  Horn.  vi.  in  Lucam,  he  quotes  from  Eph.  19, 


introducing  the  quotation  by  a  reference  to  the  letters 
and  their  author.  His  words  are  :  '  Well  is  it  written 
in  one  of  the  letters  of  a  certain  martyr,  Ignatius  I  mean, 
who  was  second  bishop  of  Antioch  after  the  blessed 
Peter,  and  who  in  the  persecution  fought  with  wild 
beasts  at  Rome.'  Then  follow  the  words,  *  Hidden 
from  the  prince  of  this  world  was  the  virginity  of  Mary ' 
(Eph.  19).  Origen  thus  clearly  knew  that — 

(i)  Ignatius  was  second  bishop  of  Antioch. 

(ii)  He  suffered  martyrdom  at  Rome. 

(iii)  He  wrote  some  epistles  which  were  extant  in 
Origen's  time. 

Eusebius  of  Caesarea  (c.  310 — 325)  in  his  Chronicle 
states  that  Ignatius  was  second  bishop  of  Antioch,  and 
was  martyred  in  the  reign  of  Trajan.  In  his  Ecclesiastical 
History  (iii.  22,  36)  he  shows  an  exact  and  detailed 
knowledge  of  Ignatius,  his  journey,  his  letters,  the 
churches  to  which  he  wrote,  and  the  tradition  of  his 
martyrdom  at  Rome.  He  also  quotes  from  the  epistles 
to  the  Romans  and  Smyrnaeans,  and  elsewhere  (Qucest. 
ad  Stephan.  i.)  from  Ephesians. 

From  the  time  of  Eusebius  there  is  full  and  varied 
evidence  of  the  existence  of  the  letters.  The  Syriac 
Version  was  in  existence  at  the  close  of  the  fourth 
century,  and  an  Armenian  Version,  translated  from  the 
Syriac,  in  the  fifth  century  or  rather  later. 

Internally  the  letters  bear  clear  evidence  of  the  early 
date  at  which  they  were  written. 

i.  The  heresies  attacked  show  plainly  that  the  author 
had  not  in  view  the  great  Gnostic  sects  connected  with 
Marcion,  Basilides,  or  Valentinus.  He  shows  no  sign 
of  attacking  their  distinctive  systems,  but  on  the  contrary 
uses  in  certain  places  language  which  would  have  been 
unguarded  and  liable  to  be  misunderstood  if  used  by  a 


later  writer.  See  esp.  Magn.  8  (note).  In  that  passage, 
before  the  correct  reading  was  pointed  out,  it  was  urged 
that  Ignatius  was  attacking  the  Valentinian  teaching 
upon  2iy>7  or  'Silence.'  The  true  reading  disposes  of 
that  view,  but  uses  language  which  no  orthodox  writer 
would  have  ventured  upon,  if  living  at  a  time  when  the 
Valentinian  heresy  was  rife.  On  the  early  nature  of 
the  heresies  attacked,  see  Add.  Note  i,  vol.  ii.  These 
facts  point  to  a  date  earlier  than  A.D.  140. 

2.  In  several  passages  Ignatius  appears  to  be  repeating 
stereotyped  expressions  drawn  from  the  Church  tradition 
of  his  time.  Whether  they  are  derived  from  simple 
liturgical  forms  or  Church  teaching  it  is  difficult  to  say. 
Harnack  has  drawn  attention  to  them  in  an  article  in  the 
Expositor  for  December  1885.  Many  of  these  creed- 
like  passages  exhibit  in  their  form  great  antiquity.  Thus 
the  words,  '  of  the  race  (or  seed)  of  David '  (Eph.  18,  20, 
Trail.  9,  Rom.  7,  Smyrn.  i),  the  mention  (Smyrn.  i)  of 
'Herod  the  tetrarch'  side  by  side  with  Pontius  Pilate 
(cf.  Acts  iv.  27,  also  Justin,  Dial.  103,  but  absent  from 
later  writers),  the  inclusion  of  the  baptism  of  Jesus  by 
John  (Eph.  1 8,  Smyrn.  i),  when  compared  with  the 
oldest  form  of  the  Apostles'  Creed,  from  which  these 
clauses  are  absent,  point  to  a  period  quite  early  in  the 
second  century. 

3.  The  reference  to  Christian  institutions  has  been 
claimed  in  support  of  an  early  date.  From  Smyrn.  8 
Lightfoot  concludes  that  the  Eucharist  still  formed  a 
part  of  the  Agape  (see  notes).  Justin  speaks  of  the  two 
as  separate  (Apol  i.  65,  67).  Pliny's  letter  to  Trajan 
(A.D.  112)  points  to  the  suspicion  with  which  these  cele 
brations  were  regarded,  and  Lightfoot  argues  that  the 
connection  of  the  Agape  and  Eucharist  cannot  have 
long  survived  that  date. 
VOL.  i. 


4.  The  relation  of  these  epistles  to  the  books  of  the 
New  Testament  is  a  further  indication  of  their  early 
date.  The  manner  in  which  the  Gospel  facts  and  sayings 
are  quoted  points  to  an  early  period  at  which  the 
written  Gospels  had  not  attained  the  unique  pre-eminence 
held  by  them  later  on  in  the  second  century.  There  is 
no  reference  in  the  epistles  to  written  Gospels,  and  in  one 
case  the  author  quotes  from  an  extra-canonical  source. 
See  Smyrn.  3.  This  would  show  that  oral  tradition  was 
still  appealed  to. 

The  objections  to  the  genuineness  of  these  epistles 
have  centred  mainly  round  their  presentation  of  Church 
government  and  their  witness  to  episcopacy.  But  the 
organization,  as  here  presented,  while  it  exhibits  mon 
archical  episcopacy  as  fully  established,  and  regards  the 
bishop  as  the  source  of  all  ministerial  authority,1  also 
shows  indications  of  its  early  date. 

1.  The  picture  presented  of  the  bishop  points  to  an 
early  period  when  the  area  over  which  he  exercised  his 
rule  was  the  congregation  rather  than  the  diocese,  and 
when  he  was  *  the  pastor  of  a  flock,  like  the  vicar  of  a 
modern  town,  in  intimate  relations  with  all  his  people.' 2 
Hence  too  we   find  that  the  body  of  presbyters  are  in 
immediate  and  regular  contact  with  him  and  assist  him 
as  a  'council  '3  in  the  work  of  administration. 

2.  A  study  of  the  types  of  authority  to  which  Ignatius 
likens   the  authority  of  the   bishop  and  the  presbyters 
also  affords  an  indication  of  early  date.     The  fact  that 
he  regards  the  bishop  as  the  representative  of  the  Lord, 
while  the  presbyters   represent   the  Apostles,  indicates 
that  he  is  writing  at  a  time  when  the  memory  of  the 

1  Smyrn.  8. 

2  Gore,  Church  and  Ministry,  p.  104. 

3  Magn.  6,  Trail.  3,  Philad.  8. 


Lord's  earthly  life  was  fresh  in  the  minds  of  men.  In 
the  bishop's  office  he  sees  a  type  of  authority  like  that 
which  was  in  the  world  when  Christ  went  about  in  His 
ministry  attended  by  the  Apostles. 

3.  Had  these  epistles  been  forged  in  the  latter  half 
of  the  second  century,  as  Renan  supposed,  we  should 
have  expected  them  to  reflect  the  conception  of  the 
ministry  which  is  prominent  in  Christian  writings  of  that 
period.  Now  in  the  writers  of  the  latter  half  of  the 
second  century  we  find  the  bishops  continually  appealed 
to  as  the  depositaries  of  Apostolic  tradition.  The  bishops 
have  received  from  the  Apostles  'the  gift  of  truth.' 
This  conception  is  found  in  the  Clementine  writings,  in 
Hegesippus  and  in  Irenaeus.  But  it  is  not  the  con 
ception  upon  which  the  Ignatian  epistles  dwell.  Yet  if 
these  letters  had  been  written  in  the  latter  half  of  the 
second  century  it  is  unlikely  that  his  language  would 
have  shown  so  little  trace  of  the  ideas  current  at  that 

The  other  objections  urged  on  the  ground  of  supposed 
anachronisms,  such  as  the  word  '  leopard  '  (Rom.  5)  and 
the  phrase  '  Catholic  Church '  (Smyrn.  8),  are  dealt  with 
in  the  notes. 

Each  of  the  letters  exhibits  the  same  clearly  marked 
individuality,  and  is  connected  by  close  and  subtle  links 
with  the  others.  The  Epistle  to  the  Romans,  however, 
stands  apart  from  the  others.  It  is  of  a  purely  personal 
character  and  deals  with  his  coming  martyrdom.  Hence 
it  contains  no  allusion  to  the  subjects  which  occupy  so 
large  an  amount  of  attention  in  other  epistles,  viz. 
Church  order  and  heresy.  Its  silence  on  these  points 
is  of  value  in  refuting  the  idea  that  the  letters  are  a  late 
forgery  having  as  their  object  the  promotion  of  Episco 
pacy.  On  that  assumption  it  is  difficult  to  see  why  the 


letter  should  have  been  included  in  a  collection  having 
such  an  object.  To  escape  this  difficulty  Renan  ad 
mitted  the  genuineness  of  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans. 
But  in  its  style  the  epistle  shows  clear  traces  of  the  same 
authorship  as  the  others,  and  it  is  impossible  to  separate 

The  epistles  present  a  striking  and  original  personality, 
surpassing  in  interest  that  of  any  other  of  the  so-called 
Apostolic  Fathers.  The  creation  of  such  a  character 
would  have  been  a  literary  feat  quite  beyond  the  reach 
of  a  forger  in  the  second  or  any  following  century. 

The  year  of  the  martyrdom  of  Ignatius  can  only  be 
fixed  within  rough  limits.  Eusebius,  as  we  have  seen, 
states  that  Ignatius  was  martyred  in  the  time  of  Trajan. 
Origen's  statement  that  he  was  second  bishop  of  Antioch 
and  fought  with  wild  beasts  at  Rome  '  during  the  persecu 
tion,'  probably  shows  that  he  was  acquainted  with  the 
same  tradition  and  refers  to  the  persecution  under  Trajan, 
for,  as  Harnack  has  shown  (Chronologic,  p.  404),  the 
date  of  the  second  bishop  of  Antioch  cannot  well  be 
much  later  than  that  of  the  second  bishop  of  Jerusalem, 
Simeon,  who  suffered  martyrdom  in  the  reign  of  Trajan 
(A.D.  98—117). 

Harnack  finds  another  indication  of  the  date  in  the 
relations  of  Ignatius  to  Polycarp.  In  the  epistle  ad 
dressed  to  the  latter,  Ignatius  plainly  shows  that  he  is 
writing  to  one  who  is  a  comparatively  young  man.  At 
the  time  of  his  death  Polycarp's  age  was  eighty-six  (Mart. 
Polyc.  9).  This  was  in  A.D.  155-6,  and  Polycarp  would 
be  between  forty  and  fifty  between  A.D.  no — 120. 

Hence  the  date  of  the  letters  and  the  martyrdom  may 
be  fixed  between  A.D.  no — -117. 


3.     ST.  IGNATIUS   THE    MARTYR. 

OF  the  author  of  these  epistles  we  possess  little  reliable 
information  beyond  what  may  be  gathered  from  the 
epistles  themselves.  The  Italian  name  Ignatius  com 
bined  with  the  Greek  title  Theophorus  may  indicate,  as 
Professor  Ramsay 1  suggests,  that  '  he  belonged  to  a 
Syrian  family,  strongly  affected  by  Western  civilization, 
which  had  discarded  native  names.'  It  is  clear  from  the 
nature  of  his  punishment  that  he  cannot  have  been  a 
Roman  citizen,  in  which  case  he  would  have  been  sent, 
like  St.  Paul,  to  Rome  for  trial,  and,  if  condemned,  would 
have  been  beheaded.  From  the  scattered  hints  which 
the  letters  give,  e.  g.  Rom.  9,  '  born  out  of  due  time,'  and 
the  expression,  'last  (of  all),' found  in  Eph.  21,  Trail. 
13,  Smyrn.  u,  we  may  conclude  that  his  conversion  was 
late  in  life.  From  Origen  and  Eusebius  (see  preceding 
section)  we  have  learnt  that  he  was  second  bishop  of 
Antioch,  being  preceded  by  Euodius,  and  that  he  suffered 
martyrdom  in  the  time  of  Trajan.  The  Acts  recording 
his  martyrdom  exist  in  two  forms,  the  Antiochene  and 
Roman  Acts,  but  both  are  quite  late  and  untrustworthy. 
With  their  rejection  we  are  left  without  any  knowledge  of 
the  circumstances  of  his  trial  and  condemnation,  and  the 
oft-quoted  interview  with  Trajan  becomes  destitute  of 
authority.  From  the  epistles  themselves  we  infer  that 
Ignatius,  like  other  martyrs  before  him  (Eph.  12),  who 
had  been  condemned  to  the  beasts  by  the  provincial 
governors,  was  being  sent  to  Rome  to  suffer  in  the  arena 
of  the  Coliseum.  This  great  amphitheatre,  built  by  the 
Flavian  emperors,  was  the  scene  of  these  brutal  sports  on 

1  Ch.  in  R.  Empire,  p.  440,  note. 


a  gigantic  scale,  and  it  is  a  well-attested  fact  that  criminals 
from  the  provinces  were  used  for  this  purpose.1  From 
Polyc.  Phil,  i,  9  we  gather  that  other  prisoners  accom 
panied  Ignatius,  at  least  during  a  portion  of  his  journey. 
His  escort  consisted  of  a  maniple  of  soldiers,  whom  on 
account  of  their  harsh  treatment  he  compares  to  'ten 
leopards'  (Rom.  5).  His  letters  reveal  the  true  martyr- 
spirit.  He  declares  that  he  is  a  willing  victim.2  His 
death  will  speak  more  clearly  to  the  world  than  ever  his 
words  have  done  in  life.  '  If  you  be  silent  and  leave  me 
alone,'  he  writes  to  the  Romans,  *  I  shall  become  a  word 
of  God,  but,  if  you  desire  my  flesh,  then  shall  I  be  again 
a  mere  cry.;  3  To  the  people  of  Smyrna  he  says,  '  Near 
to  the  sword,  near  to  God ;  in  company  with  wild  beasts, 
in  company  with  God.  Only  let  it  be  in  the  name  of 
Jesus  Christ,  so  that  we  may  suffer  together  with  Him.'4 
'  It  is,'  he  writes  to  Polycarp,  '  the  part  of  a  great  athlete 
to  suffer  blows  and  be  victorious.' 5  The  route  taken  by 
his  guards  was  probably  overland  by  the  Syrian  and 
Cilician  Gates  to  Smyrna,  Troas,  and  Philippi,  and  thence 
to  Rome.  At  some  point  in  the  journey  the  road  branched 
in  two  directions,  the  southern  route  following  the  line  of 
the  great  trade  highway  through  Tralles,  Magnesia,  and 
Ephesus,  while  the  more  northern  lay  through  Phila 
delphia  and  Sardis.  The  latter  was  the  route  followed 
by  the  Roman  guards,  and  after  a  stay  at  Philadelphia 
(Philad.  i,  6,  7,  8),  Ignatius  reached  Smyrna,  where  he 
was  hospitably  received  by  the  Church  and  its  bishop, 
Polycarp.  Meanwhile  messengers  appear  to  have  in 
formed  the  churches  lying  on  the  southern  route  of  the 
martyr's  approaching  visit  to  Smyrna,  and  accordingly 
delegates  were  sent  to  Smyrna  to  meet  him  from  Ephesus, 

1  See  Ramsay,  Ch.  in  R.  Empire,  p.  317. 

2  Rom.  4.  3  Rom.  2.  4  Smyrn.  4.  5  Polyc.  3. 


Magnesia,  and  Tralles.  Their  arrival  appears  to  have 
greatly  cheered  Ignatius,  and  he  accordingly  addressed  a 
letter  to  each  of  the  churches  from  which  they  came, 
acknowledging  their  attentions  and  giving  them  practical 
counsel  upon  the  dangers  to  which  they  were  exposed.1 
At  the  same  time  he  wrote  a  letter  to  the  Church  at 
Rome.  The  Roman  Christians  had  heard  of  his  journey 
from  certain  members  of  the  Syrian  church  who  had 
preceded  him  (Rom.  10),  and  he  fears  that  some  of  their 
more  influential  members  may  exert  themselves  to  procure 
a  respite.  He  entreats  them  not  to  hinder  him  from 
'  attaining  unto  God,'  and  expresses  in  exuberant  and 
passionate  language  his  desire  for  martyrdom.  The  next 
halting-place  at  which  we  hear  of  him  is  Troas,  from 
which  he  wrote  the  three  remaining  letters,  to  the  Phila- 
delphians,  to  the  Smyrnaeans,  and  to  Polycarp.  All 
these  letters  were  written  after  he  had  received  the  news 
that  the  persecution  in  Syria  had  ceased.  He  accord 
ingly  asks  that  delegates  should  be  sent  to  Antioch  with 
congratulations.  From  Polyc.  8  we  learn  that  he  was  on 
the  point  of  sailing  to  Neapolis.  The  next  mention  of 
him  is  in  Polycarp's  letter  to  the  Philippians  (cc.  9,  13), 
in  which  he  asks  for  tidings  of  Ignatius,  who  had  passed 
through  their  city.  Polycarp  also  states  that  he  is  send 
ing  them,  at  their  request,  a  packet  of  the  letters  of 
Ignatius.  This  is  the  last  we  hear  of  him.  His  fame  as 
a  martyr  spread  through  the  East,  and  his  letters  were 
translated  into  Syriac,  Armenian,  and  Coptic.  Around 
his  life  and  death  there  grew  a  wealth  of  legend.  His 
name  Theophorus  gave  rise  to  two  such  legends.  One 
of  these,  not  found  before  the  end  of  the  ninth  century, 
evidently  understands  the  name  to  mean  'the  God- 

1  On  the  heresies  attacked,  see  Add.  Note  I,  vol.  ii. 


borne,'  and  represents  Ignatius  as  the  child  whom  our 
Lord  took  in  His  arms  (Mark  ix.  36,  37). 

Another  story,  which  comes  from  the  Western  Church 
and  had  a  much  more  limited  circulation,  is  founded 
upon  the  other  sense  of  the  name  Theophorus,  '  God- 
bearer.'  It  is  narrated  by  Vincent  of  Beauvais,  who 
tells  us  that  '  when  his  heart  was  cut  into  small  pieces, 
the  name  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ  was  found  inscribed 
in  golden  letters  on  every  single  piece,  as  we  read ;  for 
he  had  said  that  he  had  Christ  in  his  heart.7 

Various  traditions  connect  him  with  one  or  other  of 
the  Apostles.  Theodoret  speaks  of  him  as  having 
'  received  the  grace  of  the  high-priesthood  at  the  hand 
of  the  great  Peter.'  In  the  Apostolical  Constitutions  he 
is  represented  as  having  been  ordained  by  St.  Paul. 
The  later  and  more  widely-spread  tradition  represented 
him  as  a  disciple  of  St.  John. 

A  story  is  told  us  of  the  episcopate  of  Ignatius  by  the 
historian  Socrates,  who  wrote  c.  A.D.  440.  He  narrates 
(H.  E.  vi.  8)  how  Ignatius  'saw  a  vision  of  angels, 
praising  the  Holy  Trinity  in  antiphonal  hymns,  and  left 
the  fashion  of  his  vision  as  a  custom  to  the  Church  at 
Antioch.'  Lightfoot  thinks  that  this  tradition  may  be 
traced  to  his  language  in  such  passages  as  Trail.  5,  in 
which  he  speaks  of  his  power  to  grasp  heavenly  things 
and  the  orders  of  angels,  and  also  to  his  language  in 
Eph.  4,  Rom.  2,  where  he  bids  his  readers  form  into  a 
chorus  and  sing  to  the  Father  through  Jesus  Christ. 

The  Acts  of  his  martyrdom  1  gave  currency  in  East  and 
West  to  the  story  of  his  interview  with  the  Emperor 
Trajan,  a  story  which,  as  we  have  seen,  has  no  independ 
ent  authority  apart  from  the  spurious  Acts  in  which  it  is 
contained.  The  same  Acts  in  like  manner  perpetuated 
1  On  these  Acts  of  the  martyrdom,  see  Add.  Note  3,  vol.  ii. 


the  varying  traditions  of  East  and  West  as  to  the  disposal 
of  the  reliques.  In  the  latter  part  of  the  fourth  century 
his  festival  was  kept  in  Syria  and  Greece  on  October 
17,  and  the  grave  containing  his  reliques  was  shown 
in  the  Christian  cemetery  at  Antioch.  It  was  on  one  of 
these  anniversaries  that  the  great  preacher,  Chrysostom, 
while  a  presbyter  at  Antioch,  delivered  an  oration  on  the 
martyr,  in  which  he  shows  evident  tokens  of  a  belief  in 
the  translation  of  the  reliques  from  Rome  to  Antioch. 
In  the  fifth  century  the  reliques  were  transferred  with 
great  pomp,  by  order  of  the  Emperor,  the  younger 
Theodosius,  to  the  old  Temple  of  Fortune,  known  hence 
forth  as  the  Church  of  Ignatius.  The  date  of  his  festival 
came  to  be  transferred  to  December  2oth,  which  was 
probably  the  date  of  the  translation  of  the  reliques  to 
their  new  resting-place.  In  later  times  this  anniversary 
was  kept  as  a  public  festival  at  Antioch,  and  was  cele 
brated  with  rites  of  great  magnificence. 

In  the  West,  December  zyth  was  at  first  kept  as  the 
day  of  the  martyrdom,  but  finally  this  date  was  assigned 
to  the  translation  of  the  reliques,  and  the  festival  of  the 
martyrdom  was  kept  on  February  ist. 

4.     ST.  IGNATIUS   AS   A   TEACHER. 

THE  splendid  example  of  the  Christian  martyr-spirit 
was  not  the  only  legacy  of  Ignatius  to  the  Church.  In 
the  epistles  which  have  come  down  to  us  he  has  pre 
sented  to  us  the  picture  of  a  lofty,  spiritual  character,  and 
has  bequeathed  to  us  a  body  of  teaching,  which  has 
given  him  a  foremost  place  among  the  '  Apostolic 

The  doctrinal  and  controversial  interest  of  his  writings 


must  not  be  allowed  to  obscure  the  profoundly  spiritual 
character  which  lies  behind  them.  The  letters  abound 
in  maxims  and  in  passages  of  great  spiritual  beauty. 
They  present  to  us  a  man,  who  has  a  keen  insight  into 
the  practical  significance  of  the  Incarnation  and  the  fresh, 
spiritual  value  which  it  has  given  to  material  things.  He 
can  say  even  of  the  simple  events  of  daily  life,  '  Those 
things  which  you  do  after  the  flesh  are  spiritual,  for  you 
do  all  things  in  Jesus  Christ.'1  Though  he  is  the 
uncompromising  champion  of  Church  order  and  the 
ministry,  we  find  him  saying,  '  Let  not  office  puff  up  any 
man,  for  faith  and  love  are  all  in  all.' 2  Amid  all  his 
insistence  upon  outward  unity,  he  does  not  forget  to 
remind  us  that  the  inner  principle  of  union  is  God  Him 
self.3  So  again,  he  loves  to  dwell  on  the  '.silence 'of 
God's  working.4  To  Ignatius,  Christ  and  His  Cross  are 
all  in  all.  In  the  Passion  of  Jesus  Christ  lies  the  power 
which  draws  his  heart  from  all  earthly  longings.5  Hence 
his  one  aspiration,  expressed  again  and  again,  is  '  that  I 
may  attain  unto  God.'  And  yet  throughout  there  breathes 
a  deep  spirit  of  humility.  He  is  '  one  born  out  of  due 
time,'  6  '  the  last  (of  all).'  7  Though  at  the  close  of  a 
long  career,  he  writes,  'Now  I  am  beginning  to  be  a 
disciple.'  8 

His  teaching  reflects  the  natural  character  and  circum 
stances  of  its  author.  Thus  the  deep  vein  of  mysticism 
which  pervades  these  letters  may  be  partly  due  to  the 
intense  and  fervid  Oriental  character  of  the  writer. 
Again,  the  influences  of  heathen  training  show  themselves 
to  some  degree  in  the  form  in  which  he  apprehended 
Christianity.  The  idea  of  union  with  God,  and  the  con- 

1  Eph;  8.  2  Smyrn.   6. 

3  Trail.  II.  4  Eph.  15,  19. 

6  See  Rom.  7.  6  Rom    9. 

7  Eph.  21,  Trail.  13,  Rom.  9.  8  Eph.  3. 


ception  of  redemption  as  deliverance  from  death  and  the 
power  of  demons,  present  points  of  contact  with  the 
religious  ideas  of  the  heathen  world,  as  we  know  it  in  the 
first  and  second  centuries,  and  are  such  as  would  natur 
ally  attract  a  convert  from  heathenism.  And  further,  if 
we  could  trust  the  later  tradition,  which  is  not  impossible 
so  far  as  dates  are  concerned  (though  worthless  in  itself), 
that  St.  John  was  the  teacher  of  Ignatius,  we  should  find 
a  natural  explanation  of  the  close  relationship  between 
his  thought  and  that  of  the  Johannine  writings. 

As  compared  with  later  teaching,  the  theology  of  Igna 
tius,  like  that  of  the  other  *  Apostolic  Fathers, '  exhibits 
in  some  respects  an  immature  and  undeveloped  character. 
It  was  only  slowly  that  men  came  to  sound  the  depths  of 
the  teaching  of  St.  Paul  and  St.  John,  and  to  grasp  the 
eternal  relations  of  the  truths  revealed  in  time.  Hence  we 
find  in  Ignatius  a  use  of  doctrinal  terms,  which  would  have 
been  avoided  by  the  more  exact  theology  of  a  later  age.  In 
stances  are  the  phrases, '  the  blood  of  God,' 1  '  the  passion 
of  my  God,' 2  and  the  word  '  unoriginate,' 3  which,  as 
applied  to  our  Lord,  might  seem  to  deny  the  Eternal  Gen 
eration.  There  is  also  an  absence  of  any  references  to 
the  work  of  the  Son  of  God  in  the  world  before  the  In 
carnation  (except,  perhaps,  in  Magn.  8),  and  of  the  doctrine 
of  His  agency  in  Creation  such  as  we  find  in  St.  Paul. 
While  Ignatius  applies  to  Him  the  title  'Logos'  or 'Word,'4 
and  elsewhere  speaks  of  Him  as  '  the  Mind  of  the  Father,' 5 
and  '  the  unerring  Mouth  whereby  the  Father  spake  ; '  6 
while,  moreover,  he  asserts  the  Divine  Sonship,  and  once 
uses  the  phrase,  '  the  Only  Son/  7  yet  he  nowhere  speaks 
of  the  eternal  relations  of  this  Divine  Sonship  to  the 

1  Eph.  i.  2  Rom.  6.  3  Eph.  7. 

4  Magn.  8.  5  Eph.  3.  6  Rom.  8. 

7  Rom.  inscr. 


Fatherhood  of  God,  beyond  the  mere  fact  of  the  Son's 
pre-existence  with  the  Father.1  How  far  the  human 
nature  was  complete,  whether  Christ  had  a  human  soul, 
how  the  two  natures  are  united  in  One  Person,  these  are 
questions  which  lie  outside  the  scope  and  grasp  of  the 
teaching  of  Ignatius.  Nor  again  do  the  epistles  present 
us  with  a  theology  of  the  Cross,  or  attempt  to  sound  the 
depths  of  St.  Paul's  teaching  upon  the  Death  of  Christ. 
The  idea  of  '  justification '  is  found  only  in  two  passages, 
/.  e.  Rom.  5  and  Philad.  8,  and  only  in  the  latter  of  these 
is  it  used  in  connection  with  the  Passion.  The  word 
'  propitiation  '  does  not  occur,  and  there  is  only  one 
mention  of  '  forgiveness '  in  connection  with  repentance, 
in  Philad.  8.  It  is  not  maintained  that  Ignatius  ignored 
the  teaching  associated  with  such  language.  His 
repeated  references  to  the  Cross  and  Passion  imply  the 
contrary.  But  his  particular  contribution  to  Christian 
thought  and  teaching  lay  in  another  direction,  and  he 
was  content  accordingly  to  repeat,  without  developing,  the 
simple  language  of  his  time  upon  the  Death  of  Christ. 

Such  are  some  of  the  limits  within  which  the  teach 
ing  of  these  epistles  moves.  But  when  we  come  to 
their  positive  contents,  we  find  that  they  witness  to  a 
Church  tradition  which  is  singularly  full  and  varied,  and, 
above  all,  they  present  a  view  of  the  Person  of  Jesus 
Christ,  which  is  richer  and  more  complete  than  anything 
to  be  found  in  the  writings  of  the  other  '  Apostolic 

With  regard  to  the  former  of  these,  the  witness  of  the 
epistles  to  the  Church  tradition  of  their  time,  we  may 
quote  the  language  of  Dr.  Harnack  (Chronologic,  p.  xi). 
Speaking  of  the  epistles  of  St.  Clement  and  St.  Ignatius, 
he  says  :  '  He  who  diligently  studies  these  letters  cannot 
1  Polyc.  3,  Magn.  6. 


fail  to  perceive  what  a  fulness  of  traditions,  subjects  of 
preaching,  doctrines,  and  forms  of  organization  already 
existed  in  the  time  of  Trajan,  and  in  individual  churches 
had  attained  a  secure  position.'  Among  the  contents  of 
this  Church  tradition,  we  may  notice  the  reference  to  the 
Threefold  Name  in  Magn.  13  (cf.  Eph.  9,  Philad.  inscr.). 
When  we  come  to  the  historical  facts  of  the  Lord's  earthly 
life,  we  find,  first  of  all,  a  clear  and  emphatic  witness  to  the 
Virgin-birth.  'The  virginity  of  Mary  and  her  child- 
bearing'  formed  two  of  the  'three  mysteries,'  'wrought 
in  the  silence  of  God,'  but  now  'to  be  proclaimed 
aloud.'1  Against  the  Docetic  heretics  he  is  never 
weary  of  emphasizing,  in  language  that  presents  the 
appearance  of  being  derived  either  from  liturgical  formulae 
or  short  creed-like  statements,2  the  Virgin-birth,  the 
Davidic  descent,  the  baptism  by  John,  the  crucifixion 
under  Pontius  Pilate  and  Herod  the  tetrarch,  and  the 
resurrection.  See  esp.  the  two  passages,  Trail.  9,  Smyrn. 
i,  2.  He  mentions  the  star  seen  at  the  birth  of  Jesus 
Christ,3  and  dwells  upon  the  intercourse  of  the  Lord, 
after  His  Resurrection,  with  the  Apostles.4  Of  interest 
too  is  the  reference  to  the  descent  into  Hades  in  Magn. 
9  (cf.  Philad.  5,  9).  He  nowhere  speaks  of  the  actual 
fact  of  the  Ascension,  although  it  is  presupposed  in 
Magn.  7.  But  for  the  purposes  which  he  had  in  hand, 
it  did  not  possess  the  same  immediate  interest  as  the 
facts  of  the  Birth,  Passion,  and  Resurrection,  which 
witness  to  the  reality  of  the  Lord's  human  nature.  The 
references  to  the  Second  Coming  of  the  Lord  are  very 
slight.  See  Eph.  15,  and  compare  the  expression  in 
Rom.  10,  'patient  abiding  for  Jesus  Christ.'  Ignatius 
speaks  of  the  Holy  Spirit  in  language  which  plainly 
shows  that  he  regarded  Him  as  distinct  from  the  Father 
1  Eph.  19.  2  See  p.  17.  3  Eph.  19.  4  Smyrn.  3. 


and  the  Son.  Cf.  Magn.  13.  He  speaks  of  Him  as 
'  from  God/  1  and  regards  the  miraculous  conception  of 
Jesus  Christ  as  wrought  through  His  agency.2  Else 
where  he  dwells  upon  His  work  of  sanctification  in  the 
Church.  See  Eph.  9,  Philad.  inscr.,  Smyrn.  13.  In 
Philad.  7,  Ignatius  claims  to  have  received  personal 
revelations  from  the  Spirit. 

In  two  passages  Ignatius  refers  to  ordinances  of  the 
Apostles.  In  Magn.  13  the  readers  are  bidden  to  stand 
fast  'in  the  ordinances  of  the  Lord  and  the  Apostles.' 
In  Trail.  7  they  are  urged  to  be  '  inseparable  from  Jesus 
Christ  and  the  bishop,  and  the  ordinances  of  the 

When  we  come  to  examine  the  relation  of  these  letters 
to  the  Canon  of  Scripture,  we  find  very  strong  traces  of 
the  influence  of  the  thoughts  and  ideas  preserved  for  us 
in  the  books  of  the  New  Testament,  but  comparatively 
few  traces  of  actual  quotation  from  any  of  the  writers  of 
the  New  Testament.  The  cast  of  thought  shows  strong 
affinities  with  the  ideas  of  the  Johannine  writings  and  the 
later  epistles  of  St.  Paul,  especially  St.  Paul's  Epistle  to 
the  Ephesians.  But  it  is  difficult  to  prove  that  Ignatius 
is  in  any  passage  quoting  from  the  Fourth  Gospel.  The 
passages  in  Philad.  7  and  Eph.  17  are  not  decisive  (see 
notes).  The  allusions  to  the  actions  and  words  of  the 
Lord  exhibit  a  tradition  most  closely  akin  to  that  found 
in  St.  Matthew's  Gospel,  with  which  these  epistles 
exhibit  more  numerous  parallels  than  with  any  other 
N.  T.  writing.  In  no  passage  does  he  allude  definitely 
to  written  gospels,  though  Philad.  5  seems  to  point  to  a 
collection  of  apostolic  writings.  In  one  instance3  he 
quotes  from  an  apocryphal  source,  whether  written  or 
traditional  we  cannot  tell.  For  the  passage  Eph.  19,  see 
1  Philad.  7.  2  Eph.  19.  3  Smyrn.  3. 


notes.  With  the  epistles  of  St.  Paul  there  are  many 
parallels  pointing  to  the  author's  acquaintance  with 
them,  though  without  actual  quotation.  In  Eph.  12 
the  author  directly  speaks  of  St.  Paul  and  his  epistles. 
For  further  parallels  with  books  of  the  New  Testament, 
see  Index  of  Scriptural  passages  in  vol.  ii.  We  may  say 
in  conclusion  that  the  epistles  point  to  a  period  in  which 
the  New  Testament  writings,  though  current,  had  not 
superseded  the  oral  tradition  of  the  Church,  as  an 
authority  and  standard  of  teaching. 

For  his  attitude  towards  the  Old  Testament,  see  Magn. 
8 — 10,  Philad.  5,  8,  9,  with  notes. 

Ignatius'  conception  of  the  Christian  faith  is  more 
striking  than  that  of  any  sub-apostolic  writer.  He  starts 
not  from  Creation  or  the  Old  Testament  but  from 
the  revelation  of  God  in  Christ.  In  Christ's  appear 
ing  God  has  revealed  Himself  in  man,  the  Eternal 
in  time,  the  Spiritual  in  the  material.1  The  antithesis 
of  '  spirit '  and  « flesh  '  which  is  conceived  of  as  recon 
ciled  in  Christ,  runs  through  the  whole  theology  of 
Ignatius.2  The  whole  earthly  life  of  Christ  has  a 
place  in  the  mystery  of  redemption,  which  has  a  signifi 
cance  for  the  whole  Creation.3  Thus  he  speaks  of  « the 
virginity  of  Mary,  and  her  child-bearing,  likewise  also 
the  death  of  the  Lord,'  as  '  three  mysteries  to  be  pro 
claimed  aloud.'  4  It  is  the  Person  and  not  merely  the 
teaching  of  Christ,  which  is  of  importance.  He  is  '  our 
God,'  'my  God,'  '  God  in  man,'  though  never  apparently 
called  God  absolutely  without  some  defining  words.5 

1  See  esp.  Eph.  7,  Polyc.  3. 

*   Cf.  Eph.  8,  Magn.  i,  13,  Polyc.  2. 

3  Trail.  9,  Smyrn.  6.  *  Eph>  ^ 

5  Cf.  Eph.  inscr.,  i,  7,  18,  Rom.  inscr.,  Smyrn.  i,  Polyc.  8. 


The  controversial  purpose  of  the  letters  leads  Ignatius  to 
lay  special  stress  upon  the  reality  of  the  human  nature 
of  Christ.  The  Docetae,  whom  he  is  attacking,  conceived 
of  the  existence  of  Christ  in  a  purely  metaphysical  way, 
as  a  spiritual  or  ideal  existence.  Against  this  view 
Ignatius  sets  the  historical  Christ,  whose  appearing  in 
human  form  becomes  the  medium  of  God's  revelation 
and  alone  guarantees  its  truth  to  man.  Hence  he 
emphasizes  the  facts  of  His  earthly  life.  The  Coming 
of  the  Saviour,  His  Passion  and  His  Resurrection  are  the 
three  points  which  distinguish  the  Gospel  from  all  earlier 
teaching.1  Through  the  Cross,  Death,  and  Resurrection 
he  seeks  to  be  justified.2  Especially  prominent  is  the 
place  which  he  assigns  to  the  Passion.  In  the  inscrip 
tions  to  two  letters  (Philad.,  Trail.)  he  speaks  of  the 
Churches  addressed,  as  '  rejoicing  in  the  Passion '  and 
'  at  peace  in  flesh  and  spirit  through  the  Passion  of  Jesus 
Christ.'  3  The  Blood  of  Christ  reveals  God's  love.4  In 
Smyrn.  7  he  speaks  of  Christ  as  suffering  '  for  our  sins,' 
and  in  Eph.  18  he  associates  Baptism  with  the  cleansing 
power  of  the  Passion.5  In  addition  to  these  incidental 
allusions,  he  shows  acquaintance  in  one  passage 6  with 
the  ideas  represented  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews. 
Christ  is  '  the  High  Priest,  Who  has  been  entrusted  with 
the  Holy  of  Holies,'  but  Ignatius  immediately  connects  this 
thought  with  that  of  Christ  as  the  '  Door '  of  the  Father, 
a  conception  which  we  find  in  John  x.  9.  In  Philad.  8, 
n,  he  speaks  of  being  delivered  from  '  every  bond,'  and 
being  '  ransomed  '  by  the  grace  of  Jesus  Christ.  In  these 
respects  he  echoes  the  traditional  language  of  his  time. 

1  Philad.  9,  cf.  Magn.  II.  2  Philad.  8. 

3  Cf.  Eph.  inscr.  4  Trail.  8,  Rom.  7. 

6  Cf.  also  Eph.  18,  Trail.  II,  Rom.  6.  6  Philad.  9. 


The  ideas,  however,  which  chiefly  occupy  his  thoughts 
are  that  the  Death  and  Resurrection  of  Christ  have 
annihilated  death,  have  freed  man  from  the  power  of  evil,1 
and  have  given  him  the  assurance  of  eternal  life  through 
union  with  God  in  Christ.  Christ,  '  our  Life,' 2  has  passed 
through  death,  and  life  is  assured  to  those  who  believe 
in  Him  and  are  united  with  Him.  Hence  Christians 
are  '  branches  of  the  Cross.' 3  Thus  his  teaching  pre 
sents  points  of  contact  with  St.  John,  and  with  the 
later,  rather  than  the  earlier,  teaching  of  St.  Paul.  St. 
Paul's  Epistle  to  the  Ephesians  exhibits  the  nearest 
point  of  contact  between  Ignatius  and  St.  Paul.  In 
this  connection  notice  especially  the  language  of  Eph. 
19,  20  upon  'the  new  man,'  and  of  Trail,  n  upon  'the 
one  Body.' 

The  reconciliation  of  the  antithesis  between  '  flesh  ' 
and  '  spirit '  through  the  union  of  God  and  man  in  Christ 
is  realized  practically  by  Christians  in  the  life  of  faith 
and  love.4  But  it  finds  its  fullest  expression  in  the  unity 
of  the  Church,  which  represents  Christ  and  shares  His 
life  and  twofold  nature.5  Hence  the  unity  of  the  Church 
is  at  once  '  of  flesh  '  and  '  of  spirit.'  6  The  insistence  of 
Ignatius  upon  the  visible  unity  of  the  Church  is  not 
adequately  explained  by  the  pressure  of  heresy.  That 
he  was  led  to  give  special  emphasis  to  it  by  the  dangers 
of  his  time  is  undoubtedly  true.  But  it  is  plainly  a 
consequence  of  his  belief  in  the  principle  of  the  Incarna 
tion,  the  reconciliation  of  the  outward  and  the  inward,  of 
'spirit'  and  'flesh,'  of  '  God  '  and  '  man.'  The  Catholic 

1  Eph.  19,  Philad.  8.  2  Eph.  3,  Smyrn.  4. 

3  Trail.  9,  ii.  <  Eph.  8,  14,  Smyrn.  6,  13. 

5  Smyrn.  i,  Eph.  5,  17. 

6  Eph.  10,  Magn.  I,  13,  Rom.  inscr.,  Smyrn.  12,  cf.  Eph.  7. 

VOL.  I.  c 


Church  is  the  Body  of  Christ,  and  secures  the  perpetual 
communication  of  the  One  Life  of  Christ.1  To  impair 
the  unity  of  the  Church  by  false  teaching  and  separatism 
is  to  cut  oneself  off  from  the  Passion  and  the  sacramental 
life  of  the  Church.2 

The  individual  churches  represent  locally  the  universal 
Church.  As  Jesus  Christ  is  the  Head  of  the  universal 
Church,  so  is  the  bishop  the  head  of  the  local  Church.3 
He  is  God's  representative,4  as  being  the  chief  member 
of  the  local  representation  of  that  Church  which  is  the 
Body  of  Christ.  Hence  the  bishops  are  spoken  of  as 
being  '  in  the  mind  of  Jesus  Christ.' 5  They  represent, 
and  carry  on  that  reconciliation  of  *  flesh  '  and  '  spirit,' 
which  is  assured  through  the  Incarnation.  Thus  Ignatius 
writes  to  Polycarp  :  '  Therefore  you  are  of  flesh  and 
spirit,  that  you  may  humour  the  things  which  are  visibly 
present  before  your  face.'  6  The  ministry  in  the  Ignatian 
Epistles  shows  a  more  developed  character  than  that 
found  in  the  Acts  of  the  Apostles,  the  Epistles  of  St.  Paul, 
the  Doctrine  of  the  Twelve  Apostles,  or  the  Epistle  of  St. 
Clement  of  Rome.  In  these  earlier  writings  the  terms 
<  bishop '  or  '  overseer  '  (episcopus]  and  '  presbyter  '  ap 
pear  to  be  synonymous,  or  possibly,  as  others  main 
tain,7  the  word  episcopus  denotes  a  function  exercised 
by  the  presbyter.8  In  the  position,  however,  of  Timothy 
and  Titus  in  the  Pastoral  Epistles,  we  have  traces  of 
another  office,  distinct  from,  and  higher  than  that  of 
the  presbyter  or  episcopus.  Acting  under  a  commission 
from  St.  Paul  they  had  received  authority  to  appoint 

1  Smyrn.  8,  Eph.  5,  Trail.  1 1 .  2  Philad.  3,  Smyrn.  6,  8. 

3  Smyrn.  8.  4  Eph.  6,  Magn.  3,  Trail.  2,  3. 

5  Eph.  4,  cf.  Philad.  inscr.  6  Polyc.  2. 

7  e.g.  Hort,  Christian  Ecchsia,  pp.  190,  191. 

8  On  these  words  see  further,  Add.  Note  2,  vol.  ii. 


elders  and  to  rule  the  churches  in  Ephesus  and  Crete.1 
But  whether  their  office  was  limited  to  these  churches,  or 
whether,  like  the  Apostles,  they  exercised  a  roving 
commission,  facts  do  not  enable  us  definitely  to  say.2 
They  were  apparently  apostolic  delegates  with  authority 
to  guard  the  faith,  to  found  and  rule  churches,  and  to  ordain 
and  discipline  the  clergy.3  Thus  within  the  lifetime  of 
the  Apostles  we  have  traces  of  three  grades  of  ministry, 
viz. — 

(i)  Apostles   (or  their   delegates,    like   Timothy   and 

(ii)  Presbyters  or  Episcopi. 

(iii)  Deacons. 

When  we  pass  to  the  Ignatian  Epistles  we  find  two 
important  changes. 

(i)  The  bishop  or  episcopus  represents  a  distinct  order 
from  the  presbyter,  and  is  superior  to  him.  He  alone 
can  give  the  requisite  authority  for  the  performance  of 
ministerial  acts.4  The  monarchical  character  of  his 
office  is  clearly  shown  by  the  comparison  of  the  bishop 
to  'the  Father'  or  'Jesus  Christ/  while  the  presbyters 
represent  the  Apostles.  On  this  comparison  see  antea, 
p.  18. 

(ii)  The  bishop's  office  is  localized  and  he  is  perman 
ently  attached  to  the  local  church.  Ignatius  mentions 
the  bishops  of  the  cities  of  Ephesus,  Magnesia, 
Tralles,  Philadelphia  and  Smyrna.  Of  a  diocese,  in  the 
later  sense  of  the  word,  there  is  no  distinct  trace,5  yet 
the  bishop's  authority  is  not,  like  that  of  the  Apostles,  of 

1  Titus  i.  5  ;  i  Tim.  iii.  1—7,  v.  17,  22  ;  2  Tim.  ii.  2. 

2  Cf.  2  Tim.  iv.  9;  Tit.  iii.  12. 

3  Gore,  Church  and  Ministry,  p.  267.  4  Smyrn.  8. 

5  In  Rom.  2  Ignatius  calls  himself  '  bishop  of  Syria,'  and  else 
where  he  refers  to  the  '  Church  of  Syria '  and  its  connection  with 


a  general,  undefined  character,  but  is  limited  to  a 
particular  church. 

Thus  in  the  Ignatian  Epistles  we  find  the  three  orders 
of  bishops,  priests,  and  deacons.  The  bishop's  office 
appears  for  the  first  time  under  the  name  by  which  it  has 
since  been  known  in  history,  although,  as  we  have  seen, 
the  position  of  '  Apostolic  delegates '  in  the  Pastoral 
Epistles  of  St.  Paul  resembles  that  of  the  later  bishops 
in  the  nature  of  the  authority  exercised. 

There  are  a  few  other  facts  which  may  be  noticed 
about  the  ministry  in  the  Ignatian  Epistles. 

1.  Closely  associated  with  the  bishops,  and  forming  a 
'spiritual  coronal'  about  him,  are  the  presbyters,  and 
with  them  the  deacons.     The  bishop's  authority,  though 
monarchical,  '  is  very  far  from  being  autocratic/  l    In  his 
administration  the  presbyters  form  a  '  council ' 2  around 
him  as  '  the  strings  to  a  harp.'  3     The  writer  is  scarcely 
less  emphatic  in  asserting  the  duty  of  obedience  to  the 
presbyters   than   he   is   to   the   bishop.     If  the   bishop 
represents  the  Lord,  the  presbyters  represent  the  Apos 
tles.4      Ignatius   bids   his   readers    be   subject    to    the 
bishop  '  as  unto  the  grace  of  God,'  and  to  the  presbytery 
<  as  unto  the  law  of  Jesus  Christ.' 5 

Similarly  he  bids  his  readers  obey  the  deacons.  The 
three  orders  together  form  a  central  authority,  so  that 
4  without  these  there  is  no  church  deserving  the  name.' 6 

2.  Ignatius    tells    us    little   of    the    source    of    the 
bishop's    authority    or    of    the    way    in     which    such 

himself.  Cf.  Eph.  21,  Magn.  14,  Rom.  9,  Trail.  13.  Probably 
there  was  only  one  Christian  centre  in  Coele- Syria  at  this  time, 
in  which  case  '  Syria '  is  a  synonym  of  Antioch.  See  note  Rom.  2. 

1  Lightfoot,  I,  p.  397-  2  See  antea,  p.  18. 

3  Eph.  4.  4  Magn.  6,  Trail.  2,  3,  Smyrn.  8. 

6  Magn.  2.  6  Trail.  3. 


authority  was  delegated  to  him.  He  speaks  of  the  bishops 
as  representing  the  authority  of  Christ,  though  never 
as  succeeding  to  the  Apostles.  On  the  other  hand,  he 
compares  the  presbyters  to  the  Apostles,  though  he  is 
thinking  of  the  Apostles  in  their  relation  to  Christ  during 
His  ministry  and  not  as  they  were  after  the  Ascension, 
when  they  themselves  became  the  representatives  of 
Christ.1  In  the  passage  Trail.  7,  however,  he  urges 
them  to  be  'inseparable  from  Jesus  Christ  and  the 
bishop  and  the  ordinances  of  the  Apostles.'  The  last 
phrase  probably  refers,  as  Lightfoot  maintains,  to  the 
institution  of  episcopacy,  and  the  words  would  thus 
imply  that  it  derived  its  authority  from  the  Apostles. 
There  may  be  a  similar  allusion  in  the  language  of  Trail. 
12,  where  he  bids  them  'severally,  and  especially  the 
presbyters,  refresh  the  bishop  to  the  honour  of  the  Father 
and  of  Jesus  Christ  and  of  the  Apostles/ 

3.  The  language  of  the  epistles  does  not  support  the 
view  of  Ramsay  and  others,  that  episcopacy  is  insisted 
on  so  strongly  in  these  letters  because  Ignatius  recognized 
it  as  a  new  and  valuable  institution,  which  he  desired  to 
see  established  everywhere.2  From  other  sources,  indeed, 
it  would  seem  that  a  representative  of  the  episcopal 
order  was  not  established  in  every  city  church  at  this 
time,  as  in  the  case  of  Philippi,  in  writing  to  which 
Church  Polycarp  only  makes  mention  of  their  presbyters 
and  deacons.3  But  when  we  study  the  Ignatian  Epistles 
themselves,  we  see  no  trace  of  an  idea  that  the  episcopal 

].  See  Gore,  Church  and  Ministry,  pp.  303,  304. 

2  Ch.  in  R.  Emp.,  pp.  370  foil. 

3  Polyc.,  Phil.  5.    This,  however,  does  not  necessarily  prove  that 
the  presbyters  and  deacons  at  Philippi  were  under  the  control  of  no 
superior  order,  but  only  that  no  representative  of  that  order  was 
located  in  their  city. 


office  is  of  recent  introduction.  The  writer  speaks  of 
the  'bishops  established  in  the  furthest  quarters.' l  With 
out  the  three  orders  of  bishops,  presbyters,  and  deacons 
'  there  is  no  church  deserving  the  name.' 2  Nor  can  we 
draw  any  argument  from  the  absence  of  any  mention  of 
the  bishop  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans.  That  epistle 
is  of  a  purely  personal  character,  and  is  written  with 
reference  to  the  action  of  certain  members  of  the  Church 
of  Rome,  who  were  anxious  to  procure  a  respite  for 
Ignatius.  He  nowhere  salutes  or  makes  mention  of  any 
of  the  officers  of  the  Church  in  that  city,  whether  bishop, 
presbyters,  or  deacons.  Hence  no  argument  can  fairly 
be  drawn  from  the  absence  of  all  mention  of  the  ministry 
in  the  Roman  Church,  in  favour  of  the  idea  that  the 
Church  at  Rome  did  not  possess  a  representative  of  one 
of  the  three  orders,  i.  e.  a  bishop. 

The  repeated  insistence  by  Ignatius  on  the  duty  of 
obedience  to  this  threefold  ministry  was  occasioned  by 
the  danger  arising  in  his  day  from  the  heretical  and 
separatist  tendencies  of  the  Docetic  and  Judaic  parties. 
But  it  has  its  roots  in  that  idea  of  the  Church  and  its 
unity  which  we  have  already  described.  The  same 
principle,  the  union  of  'flesh'  and  'spirit,'  of  outward 
and  inward,  appears  in  his  language  upon  the  Eucharist 
in  Philad.  4,  Smyrn.  6,  8.  The  Eucharist  is  '  the  flesh 
of  Christ,'  '  the  gift  of  God,'  '  the  medicine  of  immortality.' 
The  '  one  cup '  brings  us  into  *  union  with  the  Blood  '  of 
Christ.  The  dangers  of  the  time  led  Ignatius  to  an 
emphatic  warning  to  his  readers  to  guard  the  sacramental 
unity  of  the  Church,  which  was  broken  by  the  separatists. 
They  are  to  assemble  at  the  '  one  altar.' 8  Without  the 

1  Eph.  3.  2  Trail.  3. 

3  Eph.  5,  20,  Magn.  7,  Trail.  7,  Philad.  4  (with  notes). 


bishop's  authority  they  are  not  '  to  baptize  or  hold  a 
love-feast.'  His  authority  alone  gives  *  validity '  and 
'  security '  to  whatever  is  done.1 

For  his  language  on  baptism,  see  Eph.  18,  Smyrn.  8, 
Polyc.  6. 

The  teaching  of  Ignatius  upon  the  Incarnation,  as  a 
fact  and  as  a  principle,  has  its  roots  in  the  teaching  of  St. 
Paul  and  St.  John,  and  was  taken  up  by  later  Fathers. 
At  the  close  of  the  second  century  it  finds  expression  in 
St.  Irenaeus.  Once  more,  amid  the  perils  arising  from 
Arianism,  St.  Athanasius,  in  the  fourth  century,  seized 
upon  its  leading  idea,  that  in  Jesus  Christ  God  Himself 
has  entered  our  human  nature,  in  order  to  reveal  Him 
self  to  man  and  endow  man  with  the  gift  of  eternal  life. 
In  that  faith  has  lain  the  secret  of  '  the  victory  that  over- 
cometh  the  world.' 

Once  again,  when  Ignatius  asserted  that  in  the 
Incarnation  was  effected  the  reconciliation  of  '  flesh '  and 
*  spirit,'  of  the  material  and  the  spiritual,  he  stated  a 
principle  that  has  found  expression  in  the  life  and  worship 
of  the  Catholic  Church.  Gnosticism  and  later  mysticism 
alike  have  emphasized  the  opposition  between  spirit  and 
matter,  and  have  tended  to  despiritualize  the  material. 
In  the  Middle  Ages  men  were  inclined  to  confuse  the  two, 
and  so  to  materialize  the  spiritual.  In  her  unchanging 
faith  and  the  permanent  elements  of  her  life  and  worship, 
the  Church  witnesses  to  the  truer  view,  and  reconciles 
the  antithesis.  In  '  the  Word  made  flesh '  we  see 
the  promise  of  the  consummation  of  all  things. 

1  Smyrn.  8. 


[Ephesus  was  the  capital  of  the  Roman  province  of  Asia, 
and  was  the  port  which  conducted  in  Roman  times  most  of 
the  trade  of  the  great  highway  leading  from  the  East  to  the 
^gasan.  There  is  probably  an  allusion  to  this  great  trade- 
route  in  Eph.  12.  The  city  was  naturally  chosen  by  St.  Paul 
as  a  centre  for  missionary  labours.  See  Acts  xviii.,  xix. 
Christianity  spread  rapidly,  and  Ephesus  is  mentioned  first 
among  the  seven  churches  of  Asia  in  the  book  of  Revelation 
(Rev.  i.  11,  ii.  i).  After  the  death  of  St.  Paul,  Ephesus 
became  the  home  of  St.  John.  There  is  possibly  an  allusion 
to  the  connection  of  both  Apostles  with  the  city  in  c.  1 1. 
Ignatius  had  not  visited  Ephesus,  but  the  Church  had  sent 
delegates  to  him  at  Smyrna.  The  present  letter  was  written 
from  Smyrna  to  thank  them  for  their  kindly  interest  in  him. 
He  reminds  them  of  their  glorious  history  (cc.  8,  11,  12),  and 
praises  them  for  their  adherence  to  the  truth  and  their  regard 
for  order  (c.  6).  At  the  same  time  he  warns  them  against 
false  teachers  who  had  been  passing  through  Ephesus  (c.  9). 
He  urges  upon  them  the  importance,  in  face  of  heresy,  of 
faith  in  the  historical  manifestation  of  Jesus  Christ,  a  more 
frequent  use  of  corporate  worship,  and  adherence  to  the 
bishop.  From  the  language  of  cc.  7,  18,  19,  20,  and  the 
opening  inscription  (see  notes),  it  would  seem  that  the  heresy 
alluded  to  was  Docetic.  There  are  no  references  to  Judaism.] 



IGNATIUS,  who  is  also  Theophorus,1  to  her  that  is 
blessed  with  greatness2  through  the  fulness3  of 
God  the  Father,  foreordained  before  the  ages  to  be 
continually  for  abiding  and  unchangeable  glory  ; 
united  and  chosen  out  by  a  passion  truly  suffered,4 
through  the  will  of  the  Father  and  Jesus  Christ  our 

1  Probably  a  title  adopted  by  Ignatius  himself  to  remind 
him  of  his  Christian  calling.     The  word  may  bear  an  active 
or  a  passive  meaning,  'bearing  God'  or  'borne  (or  inspired) 
by  God,5  according  as  we  read  it  6eo<f>6pos  or  OeoQopoQ.     In 
favour  of  the  active  meaning  it  may  be  urged,  (i)  Ignatius 
in  c.  9  uses  the  word  in  this  sense.     (2)  The  word  was  com 
monly  interpreted  in  this  sense  in  the  following  centuries. 
Thus,  in  the  Antiochene  Acts  of  the  Martyrdom,  c.  2,  when 
Trajan  asks,   'Who   is   he  that    beareth    God?'     Ignatius 
replies,  '  He  that  hath  Christ  in  his  breast.'     (3)  The  idea 
thus  contained  in  the  word  was  common  in  early  writers. 
Cf.  the  early  Latin  reading  of  i  Cor.  vi.  20,    '  glorify  and  bear 
God  in  your  body,'  found  also  in  Tertullian  and  Cyprian. 
From  the  passive  sense,  '  borne  by  God  '  arose  the  tradition 
that  Ignatius  was  the  child  whom  our  Lord  took  up  in  His 
arms  (Mark  ix.  36). 

2  The  word  '  greatness  '  refers  to  the  spiritual  growth  of 
the  Church  at  Ephesus. 

3  The  word  '  fulness,'  orpleroma,  is  the  word  used  in  John  i. 
16,  Rom.  xv.  29,  Eph.  i.  23,  etc.    It  denotes,  in  the  language  of 
St.  Paul  and  St.  John,  the  whole  sum  of  the  Divine  attributes. 
Out  of  the  Divine  fulness  each  man  receives  the  gifts  and 
graces  needed  for  the  spiritual  life.     The  word  'fulness,'  as 
also  the  words  '  blessed,'  '  foreordained,' '  glory,' '  chosen  out,' 
'the  will  [of  the  Father],'  are  perhaps  reminiscences  of  the 
opening  verses  of  St.  Paul's  Epistle  to  the  Ephesians. 

4  The  words  '  truly  suffered '  are  an  allusion  to  the  Docetic 


God  ;  to  the  Church  which  is  at  Ephesus  [in  Asia], 
worthy  of  congratulation,  heartiest  greeting  in 
Jesus  Christ  and  in  joy  that  is  without  reproach. 
I.  I  welcomed  in  God  your  dearly  loved  name,1 
which  is  yours  by  nature 2  [in  an  upright  and  just 
mind]  by  faith  and  Jove  towards  Christ  Jesus 
our  Saviour.  Being  imitators  of  God,  you  were 
kindled  into  action  by  the  blood  of  God,  and 
perfectly  fulfilled  a  task  which  accorded  with 
your  nature.  For  when  you  heard 3  that  I  was 
come  from  Syria  in  bonds  for  the  Name  and  hope 
common  to  us  all,  and  that  I  was  hoping  by  your 
prayer  to  attain  my  purpose  of  fighting  with 
wild  beasts  at  Rome,  that  through  my  attaining 
I  may  be  enabled  to  be  a  disciple,  you  were 
anxious  to  visit  me.  I  received  therefore  your 
numerous  body4  in  the  name  of  God  in  the  person 
of  Onesimus,  whose  love  surpasses  words,  who  is, 
besides,  in  the  flesh  your  bishop.  I  pray  that  you 

1  The  word  'name'  is  used  in  the  sense  of 'character.' 

2  This   character   was   due  to   natural  gifts   rather  than 
training  or  accidental  circumstances.     The  words  in  brackets 
have  been  added  by  Lightfoot  from   the   abridged   Syriac 
version,  having  probably  fallen  out  at  a  time  earlier  than  any 
existing  copies  of  the  Greek  text. 

3  Probably  at  the  point  where  Ignatius'  guards  took  the 
northern  route  through  Philadelphia,  instead  of  the  southern 
route  through  Tralles,  Magnesia,  and  Ephesus,  messengers 
were  sent  to  inform  those  Churches  of  Ignatius'  approaching 
visit  to  Smyrna. 

4  In  receiving  their  bishop  Onesimus,  Ignatius  received  the 
whole  Church  which  he  represented. 


may  love  him  with  a  love  according  to  Jesus  Christ, 
and  that  you  may  all  be  like  him.  For  blessed 
is  He  Who  granted  unto  you,  worthy  as  you  are, 
to  possess  such  a  bishop. 

II.  Concerning  my  fellow-servant  Burrhus,1  who 
by  God's  appointment  is  your  deacon  and  is  blessed 
in  all  things,  I  pray  that  he  may  remain  here  unto 
the   honour   of  yourselves  and  the  bishop.     And 
Crocus,  who  is  worthy  of  God  and  of  you,  whom  I 
received  as  a  pattern  of  the  love  borne  by  you,  has 
relieved  me  in  all  things — may  the  Father  of  Jesus 
Christ  in  like   manner  refresh  2  him — along   with 
Onesimus  and  Burrhus  and  Euplus  and  Fronto,  in 
whose  presence  my  love  saw  you  all.     May  I  have 
joy  of  you  all  continually,  if  I  be  worthy.     So  then 
it  is  fitting  in  every  way  to  glorify  Jesus   Christ 
Who  has  glorified  you,  that  in  one  obedience  you 
may  be  perfectly  joined  together,  submitting  your 
selves  to  the  bishop  and  to  the  presbytery,  and 
may  in  all  things  be  found  sanctified. 

III.  I  do  not  command  you,  as  though  I  were 
somewhat.     For  even  though  I   be  bound  in  the 
Name,  I  have  not  yet  become  perfected  in  Jesus 
Christ.     For  now  I  am  making  a  beginning  of  dis- 
cipleship,  and  I  address  you  as  my  fellow-disciples. 3 

1  For  Burrhus,  cf.  Philad.   n,  Smyrn.  12,  from  which  we 
see  that  the  request  of  Ignatius  was  granted. 

2  Probably  a  reminiscence  of  2  Tim.  i.  16. 

3  The  word  used  here  ((rvi>$i$a(rita\tTai)  is  understood  by 
Lightfoot  and  Zahn  to  mean  '  school-fellows.'     The  word  is 


For  it  were  meet  for  me  to  be  anointed  by  you1  for 
the  contest  with  faith,  admonition,  patience,  long- 
suffering.  But  since  love  does  not  suffer  me  to  be 
silent  concerning  you,  I  have  therefore  hastened  to 
exhort  you  to  set  yourselves  in  harmony  with  the 
mind  of  God.  For  even  Jesus  Christ,  our  insepar 
able  Life,  is  the  Mind  of  the  Father,  as  also  the 
bishops,  established  in  the  furthest  quarters,2  are  in 
the  mind  of  Jesus  Christ. 

IV.  Hence  it  is  fitting  for  you  to  set  yourselves 
in  harmony  with  the  mind  of  the  bishop,  as  indeed 
you  do.  For  your  noble  presbytery,  worthy  of 
God,  is  fitted  to  the  bishop,  as  the  strings  to  a 

not  found  elsewhere,  but  Lightfoot  adduces  in  illustration  a 
Latin  word  found  in  inscriptions,  '  compedagogita,'  which  is 
used  in  the  plural  to  denote  slaves  trained  in  the  same  school 
or  under  the  same  master.  The  master  in  this  case  is 

1  The  anointing  of  the  athlete  was  the  work  of  the  trainer. 
Cf.  Rom.  3.     In  both  passages  the  idea  is  that  the  Church 
alluded  to  had  encouraged  and  instructed,  by  example  and 
precept,  the  martyrs  of  Christ.     Ephesus  was,  in  Ignatius' 
phrase,  'the  highway  of  martyrs '  (c.    12).     Prisoners   con 
demned   to   the  wild  beasts   in   the   Roman  amphitheatre, 
coming  from  the  East,  would  in  most  cases  sail  from  the 
port  of  Ephesus  to  Ostia.     Ramsay  (Ch.  in  R.  Emp.,  p.  318) 
shows  that  the  route  taken  by  Ignatius  was  unusual. 

2  Ignatius  is  introducing  the  great  theme  found  in  all  his 
epistles,  the  importance  of  unity.     Christ  is  at  one  with  the 
Father ;  the  bishops,  however  distant  from  each  other,  are 
at  one  with  Jesus  Christ.     In  the  phrase  *  furthest  quarters,' 
'  Ignatius  would  be  contemplating  regions  as  distant  as  Gaul 
on  the  one  hand  and  Mesopotamia  on  the  other'  (Lightfoot). 


harp.  And  thus  by  means  of  your  accord  and  har 
monious  love  Jesus  Christ  is  sung.1  Form  your 
selves  one  and  all  into  a  choir,  that  blending  in 
concord,  taking  the  key-note  of  God,  you  may  sing 
in  unison  with  one  voice  through  Jesus  Christ  to 
the  Father,  that  He  may  hear  you  and  recognize 
by  means  of  your  well-doing  that  you  are  members 
of  His  Son.  Therefore  it  is  profitable  for  you  to 
live  in  unblameable  unity,  that  you  may  be  also 
partakers  of  God  continually. 

V.  For  if  I  in  a  short  space  of  time  had  such 
intercourse  with  your  bishop,  not  after  the  common 
way  of  men,  but  after  the  spirit,  how  much  more  do 
I  congratulate  you,  who  are  knit  to  him  as  closely 
as  is  the  Church  to  Jesus  Christ  and  Jesus  Christ  to 
the  Father,  that  all  things  may  accord  in  unity. 
Let  no  man  be  deceived.  If  any  one  be  not  within 
the  enclosure  of  the  altar,2  he  lacks  the  bread  of 
God.3  For  if  the  prayer  of  one  or  two  hath  so 
great  efficacy,4  how  much  more  has  the  prayer  of 
the  bishop  and  of  the  whole  Church.  So  then  he 
who  comes  not  to  the  congregation  thereby  shows 

1  Jesus  Christ  is  the  theme  of  their  song.    For  the  metaphor, 
cf.  Philad.  i,  and  Rom.  2. 

2  On    the    word  translated    'enclosure  of  the  altar,'  see 
Trail.  7,  Philad.  4,  with  notes.     The  '  enclosure  of  the  altar' 
is  the  court  of  the  congregation  in  the  old  Tabernacle  or 
Temple.     This  was  separated  from  the  outer  court.     Here  it 
denotes  the  assembly  of  the  faithful  in  each  individual  church. 

3  Lightfoot  brackets  the  words  '  of  God.' 

4  Cf.  Matt,  xviii.  18—20. 


his  pride  and  straightway  cuts  himself  off.  For  it 
is  written,  '  God  resisteth  the  proud' l  So  then  let 
us  take  heed  not  to  resist  the  bishop,  that  we  may 
be  living  in  submission  to  God.2 

VI.  And  so  far  as  a  man  sees  a  bishop  keeping 
silence,3  let  him  hold  him  all  the  more  in  reverence. 
For  every  one,  whom  the  Master  of  the  household 
sends  to  administer  His  own  household,  we  ought  to 
receive  even  as  the  Sender's  very  self.     The  bishop 
then  we  ought  plainly  to  regard  as  the  Lord  Him 
self.     Now   Onesimus   of  his  own  accord  praises 
highly  your  orderly  manner  of  life  in  God,  how 
that  you  all  live  in  accordance  with  truth  and  that 
in  your  midst  no  heresy  has  its  dwelling.     Nay,  you 
do  not  even  listen  to  any  one  if  he  speak  of  aught 
beyond  4  Jesus  Christ  in  truth. 

VII.  For  some  are  wont,  out  of  malicious  cunning, 
to  bear  about   with  them  the  Name,  while  they 
practise    certain    other   deeds    unworthy   of   God. 
These  you  must  needs  avoid  as  wild  beasts.6     For 
they  are  mad  dogs,  biting  stealthily,  against  whom 
you  must  be  on  your  guard,  for  their  bite  is  hard 

1  Prov.  iii.  34. 

2  The  translation  follows  Zahn's  reading.     Lightfoot's  text 
yields  the  sense,  'we  may  be  God's  by  our  subjection.' 

3  Ignatius  is  here   indirectly   pleading    for   their   bishop 
Onesimus,  whose  quiet  and  modest  demeanour  might  lead 
some  to  despise  him.     Cf.  c.  15,  and  the  similar  directions  in 
Philad.  i,  Magn.  3. 

4  Lightfoot's  reading  has  been  followed. 

5  Cf.  Smyrn.  4,  Philad.  2. 


to  heal.  There  is  one  Physician,  of  flesh  and  of 
spirit,1  originate  and  unoriginate,2  God  in  man,  true 
Life  in  death,  son  of  Mary  3  and  Son  of  God,  first 
passible  and  then  impassible,  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord. 
VIII.  Let  no  man  then  deceive  you,  as  indeed 
you  are  not  deceived,  for  you  are  wholly  given  to 
God.  For  when  no  evil  desire  is  implanted  in  you, 
which  can  torment  you,  then  are  you  living  after  a 
godly  manner.  I  devote  myself  to  abasement  for 
your  sakes,4  I  surrender  myself  as  an  offering  for 

1  On  the  antithesis  of  '  flesh '  and  '  spirit '  in  these  epistles, 
see  Introd.  §  4.    The  word  *  spirit '  expresses  here  the  Divine 
nature  of  Christ.     We  may  compare  2  Clem.  c.  9,  '  Christ  the 
Lord  .  .  .  being  first  spirit,  then  became  flesh.'     The  human 
element  is  expressed  by  the  word  'flesh.'     For  this  balanced 
antithesis,  cf.  Polyc.  3. 

2  The  terms   employed    by    Ignatius    are    yewriT6s    and 
ayfvvrjTos.     Ignatius   is   using  the   words   to    express    little 
more  than  'created  and  uncreate.'     Such  language,  how 
ever,  points  to  an  early  period  of  doctrinal  statement,  and 
could  not  have  been  used  in  later  days  without  incurring  the 
charge   of  heresy,   as  it  would  have  seemed  to  deny   the 
Divine  generation  of  the  Son.     'The  conception  of  a  Divine 
Sonship  was  realized  by  the  Church  before  the  conception 
of  a   Divine   generation'    (Swete,   Apostles'    Creed,    p.  28). 
Hence  the  use  of  such  language  by  Ignatius  at  a  time  when 
there  was  no  exact  definition  of  theological  terms  involves 
nothing  inconsistent  with  the  Nicene  Creed,  and  affords  no 
proof  that  he  denied  the  pre-existence  of  Christ.     This  latter 
finds  expression  in   Magn.   6   and   Polyc.    3.      See  further 
Lightfoot's  Exctirsus*  vol.  ii .  pp.  90,  foil. 

3  The  whole  of  this  passage  is  aimed  at  the  Docetic  error, 
which  denied  the  reality  of  the  Incarnation. 

4  Literally,  '  I    am  your  offscouring.'      The    same   word, 


the  Church  of  you  Ephesians,  which  is  renowned 
unto  the  ages.  They  that  are  of  the  flesh  cannot  do 
the  works  of  the  Spirit,1  neither  can  they  that  are 
spiritual  do  the  works  of  the  flesh,  even  as  faith 
cannot  do  the  works  of  unbelief,  nor  unbelief  the 
works  of  faith.  But  even  the  things  which  you  do 
after  the  flesh  are  spiritual.2  For  you  do  all  things 
in  Jesus  Christ. 

IX.  I  have  learned  that  certain  persons  from 
yonder 3  have  passed  through  your  city,  bringing 
with  them  false  teaching.  These  you  did  not  suffer 
to  sow  seeds  among  you,  for  you  closed  your  ears 
that  they  might  not  receive  the  seeds  sown  by 
them,  since  you  were  stones  4  of  the  temple,  prepared 
beforehand5  for  a  building  of  God  the  Father, 
being  raised  to  the  heights  by  the  engine  of  Jesus 
Christ,  which  is  the  Cross,  using  as  your  rope  the 

,  is  used  by  St.  Paul  in  i  Cor.  iv.  13.  It  is  a  word 
used  of  condemned  criminals  of  the  lowest  classes,  who  were 
sacrificed  as  expiatory  offerings  in  times  of  plague  or  other 
visitations,  to  avert  the  wrath  of  the  Gods.  It  thus  includes 
the  two  ideas  of  '  self-devotion '  and  '  abasement.' 

1  Suggested  by  I  Cor.  ii.  14  sq. 

2  See  Introd.  §  4. 

3  It   is   uncertain   what   place   is    alluded   to.     Lightfoot 
conjectures  Philadelphia. 

4  The  change  of  metaphor  is  sudden,  after  the  manner  of 
Ignatius,  and  is  followed  by  another  change.     They  are  in 
succession  the  soil  in  which  seed  is  sown,  stones  of  a  building, 
and  members  of  a  festal  procession. 

6  Lightfoot's  emendation  has  been  adopted. 


Holy  Spirit.  Your  faith  is  the  windlass,1  and  love 
is  the  way  which  leads  up  to  God.  So  then  you 
are  all  companions  in  festal  procession  along  the 
way,2  bearing  your  God  and  shrine,3  bearing  Christ 
and  your  holy  treasures,  fully  arrayed  in  the  com 
mandments  of  Jesus  Christ.  And  in  your  rejoicings 
I  too  have  part,  and  am  suffered  to  associate  with 
you  by  letter,  and  to  rejoice  with  you  that  you  love 
nothing  pertaining  to  man's  outward  life,4  but  God 

X.  And  for  the  rest  of  men  pray  unceasingly — for 
there  is  in  them  hope  of  repentance — that  they 
may  attain  unto  God.  Suffer  them  therefore  to 
learn  discipleship  at  least  from  your  works.  In 
face  of  their  outbursts  of  wrath  be  meek  ;  in  face  of 
their  boastful  words  be  humble  ;  meet  their  revilings 

1  The  whole  of  this  passage  is  a  somewhat  extravagant 
expansion  in  great  detail  of  the  metaphor  used  by  St.  Paul  in 
Eph.  ii.  20  sq.     In  the  building  of  the  Church,  the  faithful 
are  the  stones,  the  Cross  is  the  crane,  the  Holy  Spirit  is  the 
rope  by  which  the  stones  are  raised,  faith  is  the  windlass 
which  sets  the  machine  in  motion,  and  love  is  the  inclined 
plane  along  which  the  stones  are  drawn. 

2  Another  change   of  metaphor.     The   figure   is   now  a 
heathen  procession,  in  which  the  pilgrims,  arrayed  in  festal 
attire,  carry  small  shrines,  images,  and  other  sacred  emblems. 
Such  processions   would   be  common  in   Syria,  Asia,   and 

3  For  these  shrines,  cf.  Acts  xix.  24.     They  were  small 
models  offered  to  the  god  or  goddess,  or  kept  at  home  as 
amulets,  and  sometimes  placed  in  graves  by  the  side  of  the 

4  Lightfoot's  emendation  has  been  adopted. 

VOL.  I.  D 


with  prayers  ;  where  they  are  in  error,  be  steadfast 
in  the  faith  ;  in  face  of  their  fury  be  gentle.  Be  not 
eager  to  retaliate  upon  them.  Let  our  forbearance 
prove  us  their  brethren.  Let  us  endeavour  to  be 
imitators  of  the  Lord,  striving  who  can  suffer  the 
greater  wrong,1  who  can  be  defrauded,  who  be  set 
at  naught,  that  no  rank  weed  of  the  Devil  be  found 
in  you.  But  in  all  purity  and  sobriety  abide  in 
Christ  Jesus  in  flesh  and  in  spirit. 

XL  These  are  the  last  times.2  Henceforth  let 
us  feel  shame,  let  us  stand  in  awe  of  the  long- 
suffering  of  God,  lest  it  turn  to  our  judgment. 
For  either  let  us  fear  the  wrath  to  come,  or  let  us 
love  the  grace  which  is  present — either  this  or  that  ; 
only  be  it  ours  to  be  found  in  Christ  Jesus  unto 
life,  which  is  life  indeed.  Apart  from  Him,  let 
nothing  dazzle  you.  For  in  Him  I  wear  my  bonds, 
my  spiritual  pearls,  in  which  I  pray  that  I  may  rise 
again  by  the  help  of  your  prayer — may  it  ever  be 
mine  to  have  a  share  in  that — that  I  may  be 
found  among  the  band  of  those  Ephesian  Christians, 
who  were,  besides,  continually  of  one  accord  3  with 
the  Apostles  4  in  the  power  of  Jesus  Christ. 

1  A  reminiscence  of  i  Cor.  vi.  7. 

2  Cf.  i  John  ii.  18. 

3  Or  with  Zahn's  reading,  '  consorted  with.' 

4  In    the   word   'Apostles'   St.    Paul   and   St.   John   are 
included,   possibly    also   St.    Peter,   whose    first  epistle    is 
addressed  to  the  Asiatic  Christians.     St.  Andrew  and  St. 
Philip  are  also  represented  as  having  lived  in  these  regions. 


XII.  I  know  who  I  am  and  to  whom  I  write. 
I  am  a  condemned  man,  you  have  obtained  mercy. 
I  am  subject  to  peril,  you  are  established  secure. 
You  are  the  highway  of  those  who  are  being  con 
ducted  by  death  unto  God.1  You  are  initiated  into 
the  mysteries  along  with  Paul,2  who  was  sanctified 
and  well  approved,  who  is  worthy  of  congratulation  ; 
in  whose  footsteps  may  I  be  found  closely  follow 
ing,  when  I  attain  unto  God;  who  makes  mention 
of  you  in  every  letter  3  in  Christ  Jesus. 

XIII.  Be   diligent   therefore   to    come   together 
more  often  to  render  thanks  4  to  God  and  to  give 

1  Ephesus  was  {  a  highway  of  martyrs.'     Criminals  were 
frequently  reserved  for  the  shows  and  hunting  scenes  in  the 
amphitheatre,   and  the  provinces  were  resorted  to  for  the 
supply  of  victims.      The   Christians  would  be   treated  as 
common  criminals,  unless  they  were  Roman  citizens.     Such 
bands  of  prisoners  from  the  East  would  pass  along  the  great 
route  which  reached  the  sea  at  Ephesus,  and  would  thence 
be  shipped  to  Ostia,  the  port  of  Rome. 

2  A  metaphor   derived  from  the  ancient    mysteries   and 
suggested  by  the  language  of  St.  Paul,  who  constantly  uses 
the  word  of  the  Gospel,  and  in  Phil.  iv.  12,  speaks  of  himself 
as  '  initiated '  (A.V.  '  I  am  instructed ').     The  reference  is  to 
St.  Paul's  long  stay  at  Ephesus  and  intercourse  with  the 
Ephesian  Christians.    Ignatius  is  speaking  of  their  intercourse 
with  martyrs,  and  so  does  not  mention  St.  John. 

3  The    words    <  in   every  letter '    are   difficult.      Pearson 
translates  'throughout  his  letter,'  and  refers  it  to  the  Epistle 
to  the   Ephesians.      Possibly    Ignatius  knew  of  St.  Paul's 
relations  with  the  Ephesians  from  sources  which  we  do  not 

4  Lit.    'come    together    for    thanksgiving.'      The    word 


glory.  For  when  you  frequently  assemble  together, 
the  forces  of  Satan  are  overthrown  and  the  destruc 
tion  which  he  is  planning  is  undone  by  the  harmony 
of  your  faith.  Nothing  is  better  than  peace,  by 
which  all  warfare  of  heavenly  and  earthly  foes  is 
brought  to  naught. 

XIV.  None  of  these  things  escapes  your  notice, 
if  you  hold  fast  perfectly  your  faith   and  love  in 
Jesus  Christ,  for  these  are  the   beginning  and  the 
end  of  life.     The  beginning  is    faith,  the    end    is 
love.     And   the  two   blending  in    unity   are  God, 
and  all  else   follows   on   these,  ending  in  perfect 
goodness.    No  man  who  professes  faith  lives  in  sin, 
nor  if  he  possesses  love,  does  he  live  in  hatred. 
The  tree  is  manifest  by  its  fruit1     In  like  manner 
they  who  profess  to  be  Christ's,  shall  be  apparent 
by  their  deeds.     For  at  this  time  the  Work  2  is  no 
mere  matter  of  profession,  but  is  seen  only  when  a 
man  is  found  living  in  the  power  of  faith  unto  the 

XV.  It  is  better  to  keep  silence  and  to  be  than 
to  talk  and  not  to  be.3     It  is  good  to  teach,  if  the 
speaker  act.     Now  there  was  One  Teacher,  Who 

tvxapio-ria  is  here  probably  used  generally,  but  indirectly 
refers  to  the  Eucharist. 

1  See  Matt.  xii.  33  ;  cf.  Luke  vi.  44. 

2  For '  the  Work'  in  the  sense  of 'the  preaching  and  practice 
of  Christianity,'  see  Rom.  3,  and  cf.  Acts  xv.  38,  Phil.  ii.  30. 

3  Probably  he  is  thinking  of  the  quiet  demeanour  of  their 


spake  and  it  came  to  pass.1  And  the  deeds  which 
He  has  done  in  silence  are  worthy  of  the  Father. 
He  who  is  truly  master  of  the  spoken  word  of  Jesus 
is  able  also  to  listen  to  His  silence,2  that  he  may 
be  perfect,  and  so  may  act  by  his  speech,  and  be 
understood  by  his  silence.  Nothing  is  hidden  from 
the  Lord,  but  even  our  secrets  are  brought  nigh 
unto  Him.  Let  us  therefore  do  all  things  in  the 
assurance  that  He  dwells  within  us,  that  we  may  be 
His  shrines  3  and  He  Himself  may  dwell  in  us  as 
God.  For  this  is  indeed  true  and  will  be  made 
manifest  before  our  eyes  by  the  services  of  love 
which  as  our  bounden  duty  we  render  unto  Him. 

XVI.  Be  not  deceived,  my  brethren.  They  that 
corrupt  houses  4  shall  not  inherit  the  kingdom  of 
God.  If  then  they  who  did  such  deeds  after  the 
flesh  were  put  to  death,  how  much  more  if  a  man 
by  his  evil  teaching  corrupt  God's  faith  for  which 
Jesus  Christ  was  crucified.  Such  a  man,  becoming 
defiled,  shall  go  into  unquenchable  fire,  and  in  like 
manner  he  that  heareth  him. 

1  He  applies  to  Christ's  work  the  words  which  the  Psalmist 
used  (Ps.  xxxii.  [xxxiii.]  9)  of  God's  action  in  Creation. 

2  Instances  of  this  silence  are  the  thirty  years'  retirement 
before   His  public  ministry,  His  withdrawal  from  popular 
demonstrations,  His  retirement  for  prayer,  and  His  silence 
at  his  trial. 

3  Cf.  i  Cor.  iii.  16,  17,  vi.  19,  2  Cor.  vi.  16,  Rev.  xxi.  3,  and 
see  Philad.  7. 

4  Suggested  by  the  passages  quoted  in  the  preceding  note. 
The  '  corrupters  of  houses '  refer  to  those  who  pollute  their 
hearts  and  bodies  by  evil. 


XVII.  For  this   cause1  the    Lord  received  the 
ointment 2  upon  His  head,  that  He  might  breathe 
the  odour  of  incorruption  upon  the  Church.     Be 
not  anointed  with  the  foul  odour  of  the  teaching  of 
the  Prince  of  this  world,  lest  he  lead  you  captive 
and  exclude  you  from  the  life  set  before  you.   And 
why  do  we  not  all  become   prudent  by  receiving 
the    knowledge   of   God,  which    is   Jesus    Christ  ? 
Why  do  we  foolishly  perish  in  ignorance   of  the 
gift  which  the  Lord  has  truly  sent  ? 

XVIII.  My  spirit  abases  itself  for  the  sake  of 
the  Cross,3  which  is  an  offence  4  to  the  unbelievers, 
but  to  us  it  is  salvation  and  life  eternal.     Where 
is  the  wise    man  ?     Where  is  he  that  disputeth  ? 
Where   is   the   boasting   of  the   so-called  men  of 

1  The  words  refer  to  what  follows, '  that  He  might  breathe,' 

2  This  refers  to  the  anointing  at  Bethany.     See  Mark  xiv. 
3  sq.,  Matt.  xxvi.  6  sq.,  John  xii.  2  sq.     Zahn  and  Lightfoot 
find  the  parallelism  to  'breathe  upon   the   church'  in  the 
words  recorded  by  St.  John  only,  *  the  house  was  filled  with 
the  odour  of  the  ointment.'     They  infer  accordingly  from  the 
passage  a  knowledge  by  Ignatius  of  St.  John's  narrative.     But 
it   is   more  probable   that  the  relation  here   conceived   of 
between  Christ  and  the  Church  is  that  of  the  Head  to  the 
Body.     The  Body  partakes  of  the  fragrant  ointment  which 
has  been  poured   'upon  the   Head.'     This   interpretation, 
which  is  suggested  by  Von  der  Goltz  (Texte  u.  Unters.  xii.  3), 
accords  with  the   interpretation  of  the   incident  given  by 
Origen,  c.  Cels.  vi.  79. 

3  Lit.  'my  spirit  is  the  offscouring  of  the  Cross.'     See  note 
on  c.  8. 

4  Suggested  by  i  Cor.  i.  23,  24.     The  following  clause  is  a 
reminiscence  of  the  same  chapter. 


understanding?  For  our  God,  Jesus  Christ,  was 
conceived  by  Mary  according  to  a  Divine  purpose,1 
of  the  seed  of  David,  and  yet  of  the  Holy  Spirit  ; 
Who  was  born  and  baptized,  that  by  His  Passion 
He  might  purify  water.2 

XIX.  And  from  the  prince  of  this  world  were 
hidden  3  Mary's  virginity  and  her  child-bearing,  in 
like  manner  too  4  the  death  of  the  Lord.5  Three 

1  Or  '  dispensation  '  (oiWoAu'cw),  a  word  specially  used   of 
the  Incarnation.     Cf.  Eph.  i.  10. 

2  The  thought  of  Ignatius  appears  to  be  that  by  His  own 
baptism  our  Lord  set  apart  and  appropriated  water  to  the 
use  of  His  Church  in  the  future  for  the  Sacrament  of  Baptism. 
The  virtue  of  baptism,  however,  was  derived  from  the  cleans 
ing  power  of  the  Cross  communicated  in  the  Sacrament. 
Hence  the  reference  to  the  Passion.      Similarly  the  water 
of  Baptism  is  connected  with  the  Cross  in  Barnabas  1  1. 

3  The   idea  that  Satan  was  deceived  by  the  mysterious 
silence  and  reserve  of  God  in  the  Incarnation  is  found  in 
writers   of  the   second,  third,   and  fourth  centuries.     Thus 
Gregory  of  Nyssa  (Or.  Cat.  26)  says  :  '  He  who  first  deceived 
man  by  the  bait  of  sensual  pleasure,  is  himself  deceived  by 
the  presentment  of  the  human  form.3 

4  One  of  the  two  MSS.  of  the  Curetonian  Syriac  Version 
omits  all  mention  of  the  death,  and  dissociates  *  the  three 
mysteries  ;  from  what  precedes.     The  words  then  run  :  '  the 
virginity  of  M.   and  the  birth  of  our  Lord  and  the  three 
mysteries  of  a  cry.'     But  it  is  difficult  to  see  what  '  the  three 
mysteries  '  can  mean,  when  thus  dissociated  from  the  preced 
ing  words.     The  absence  of  the  omitted  clause  in  the  quota 
tion  of  this  passage  by  Origen  (Horn,  in  Luc.  vi.)  is  explained 
by  the  fact  that  he   is  quoting  the   passage   merely   with 
reference  to  the  Virgin-Birth. 

6  By  'the  death  of  the  Lord'  here,  Ignatius  means  the 
atonement  brought  about  through  the  death.     The  fact  was 


mysteries  are  these  for  open  proclamation,  wrought 
in  God's  silence.  How  then  were  they  manifested 
to  the  ages  ?  A  star  l  shone  forth  in  Heaven  more 
brightly  than  all  the  stars,  and  its  light  was  greater 
than  words  can  tell,  and  its  strange  appearing 
caused  perplexity.  And  all  the  other  stars,2  with 
the  sun  and  moon,  formed  themselves  into  a  band 
about  the  star.  But  the  star  itself  surpassed  them 
all  in  its  brightness.  And  there  was  distress  to 
know  whence  came  this  strange  sight  so  unlike  the 
other  stars.  From  that  time  all  sorcery  and  every 
spell  began  to  lose  their  power  ; 3  the  ignorance  of 
wickedness  began  to  vanish  away  ;  the  overthrow 

known  to  Satan  ;  its  significance  escaped  him.  Cf.  i  Cor.  ii. 

1  A  later  expansion,  doubtless,  of  the  incident  described 
in  Matt.  ii.  I  sq.,  but  whether  derived  from  oral  tradition  or 
a  written  source,  we  cannot  tell.     The  only  other  passage 
where  Ignatius  shows  knowledge  of  a  tradition  other  than 
that  preserved  in  our  Gospels  is  in  Smyrn.  3. 

2  The  idea  appears  to  have  been  suggested  by  Joseph's 
dream.      For   similar    legendary    additions,    see    passages 
quoted  by  Lightfoot,  vol.  ii.  pp.  81,  82.    How  far  this  passage 
is  intended  as  an  actual  description  it  is  difficult  to  say. 

3  Magic  and  witchcraft  were  widely  prevalent  in  the  Empire 
throughout  the  first  four  centuries.     Cf.  Acts  xix.  19  for  an 
account  of  its  prevalence  at  Ephesus.    The  emperor  Hadrian, 
in  a  letter  written  to  Servianus  about   134  A.D.,  says  with 
reference  to  the  city  of  Alexandria  :   '  There  is  no  ruler  of  a 
synagogue  there,  no  Samaritan,  no  Christian  presbyter,  who 
is  not  an  astrologer,  a  soothsayer,  a  quack.'     The  idea  that 
the  power  of  witchcraft  was  broken  by  the  coming  of  Christ 
is  commonly  found  in  the  Fathers, 


of  the  ancient  dominion  was  being  brought  to  pass,1 
since  God  was  appearing  in  human  form  unto 
newness  of  life  eternal.  That  which  had  been 
perfected  in  the  mind  of  God  was  coming  into 
being.  Hence  all  things  were  disturbed,  because 
the  overthrow  of  death  was  being  planned. 

XX.  If  Jesus  Christ  permit  me  through  your 
prayer,  and  it  be  God's  will,  in  my  second  treatise, 
which  I  am  about  to  write  unto  you,  I  will  go  on 
to  set  forth  the  Divine  plan,  which  I  began  to 
expound,  with  reference  to  the  new  man,2  Jesus 
Christ,  consisting  in  faith  in  Him  and  love  toward 
Him,  in  His  Passion  and  Resurrection,  especially 
if  the  Lord  make  any  3  revelation  to  me.  Meet  in 
common  assembly  in  grace,  every  one  of  you,  man 
by  man,  in  one  faith  and  in  one  Jesus  Christ,  Who 
is  according  to  the  flesh  of  the  stock  of  David,  the 
Son  of  man  and  Son  of  God,  so  that  you  may  obey 
the  bishop  and  the  presbytery  with  a  mind  free 
from  distraction  ;  breaking  one  bread,4  which  is  the 
medicine  of  immortality,  the  antidote  preserving  us 
that  we  should  not  die  but  live  for  ever  in  Jesus 

1  Lightfoot's  reading  has  been  adopted. 

2  For  the  'new  man,'   cf.   I    Cor.  xv.  45,  47.     Lightfoot 
suggests  that  Ignatius  may  have  understood  Eph.  iv.  24  to 
refer  to  Christ. 

3  Zahn's  emendation  has  been  adopted. 

4  For  the  phrase,  cf.  Acts  ii.  46,  xx.  7,  etc.,  I   Cor.  x.  16. 
The  reference  is  to  the  Eucharist,  which  is  the  bond  of  unity 
between  Christ  and  His  members.     See  Smyrn.  8,  Philad.  4. 


XXI.  I  am  devoted  to  you1  and  to  those  whom 
you  sent  to  Smyrna  for  the  honour  of  God.  It 
is  from  thence,  moreover,  that  I  am  writing  to 
you  with  thanksgiving  to  God,  and  with  love  for 
Polycarp  as  well  as  for  yourselves.  Remember  me, 
even  as  Jesus  Christ  remembers  you.  Pray  for  the 
Church  which  is  in  Syria,  whence  I  am  being  led  in 
bonds  to  Rome,  though  I  am  the  last  among  the 
faithful  there  ;  according  as  I  was  deemed  worthy 
to  be  found  destined  for  the  honour  of  God.  Fare 
well  in  God  the  Father  and  in  Jesus  Christ  our 
common  Hope. 

1  Lit.  'I  am  a  sacrifice  for  you.'  The  word  avrtyvxov,  used 
here,  occurs  again,  Smyrn.  10,  Polyc.  2,  6.  It  closely 
resembles  the  word  used  in  c.  8.  But  the  prominent  idea  is 
simply  '  devotion  to,  and  love  for,  another'.  The  word  may 
be  illustrated  by  another  word  of  similar  formation,  I<r6tyvxos, 
'  like-minded,'  which  is  found  not  only  in  Phil.  ii.  20,  but  also 
in  the  LXX.  version  of  Ps.  iv.  [lv.]  14  (translated  in  the 
P.-B.  V.  '  my  companion  '). 


[Magnesia  by  the  Mseander  was  about  fifteen  Roman  miles 
south-east  of  Ephesus.  The  foundation  of  the  Church  there 
probably  dates  from  St.  Paul's  residence  at  Ephesus  (Acts 
xix.  10 — 26).  The  Magnesian  Christians,  like  the  Ephesians, 
on  hearing  of  Ignatius'  visit  to  Smyrna,  had  sent  delegates 
to  that  city,  including  representatives  of  all  three  orders  of 
the  ministry  (c.  2).  Ignatius  writes  to  acknowledge  their 
interest  in  him.  As  in  other  epistles,  he  urges  the  import 
ance  of  unity  and  the  duty  of  obedience  to  the  ministry, 
especially  warning  them  against  presuming  upon  the  youth- 
fulness  of  their  bishop  (c.  3).  In  cc.  8 — 10  he  deals  with  a 
form  of  Judaistic  error,  against  which  he  warns  them,  without, 
however,  implying  its  actual  existence  at  Magnesia  (cf.  cc. 
n,  12,  14).  There  are  incidental  allusions  to  Docetism 
(cc.  9 — n).  See  further  Add.  Note  i,  vol.  ii.] 

IGNATIUS,  who  is  also  Theophorus,  to  her  that 
has  been  blessed  by  the  grace  of  God  the  Father 
in  Christ  Jesus  our  Saviour,  in  Whom  I  salute  the 
Church  which  is  in  Magnesia  by  the  Maeander,  and 
wish  it  in  God  the  Father  and  in  Jesus  Christ 
heartiest  greeting. 

I.  When  I  learned  that  your  godly  love  shows 

itself  in  a  most  orderly  demeanour,1  I  rejoiced  and 

resolved  to  address  myself  to  you  in  the  faith  of 

1  /.  e.  their  submission  to  authority.      REGIS 

59  BEBL.  MAJ 


Jesus  Christ.  For  having  been  granted  a  title  of 
the  highest  reverence,1  in  my  bonds  which  I  wear 
I  sing  the  praises  of  the  churches,2  and  I  pray  that 
in  them  there  may  be  union  of  flesh  and  spirit,3 
which  belong  to  Jesus  Christ,  our  continual  Life,  an 
union  in  both  faith  and  love — for  there  is  nothing 
better  than  that — and,  more  than  all,  union  with 
Jesus  and  the  Father.  In  Him  we  shall  endure  all 
the  malicious  attacks  of  the  prince  of  this  world, 
and,  escaping  from  them,  shall  attain  unto  God. 

II.  Since  therefore    I    have   been  permitted  to 
see  you  in  the  person  of  Damas,  your  godly  bishop, 
and  the  worthy  presbyters,  Bassus  and  Apollonius, 
and    my    fellow-servant,    the    deacon    Zotion,    of 
whom  may  I  have  joy,  because  he  is  subject  unto 
the  bishop  as  unto  the  grace  of  God,  and  to  the 
presbytery  as  unto  the  law  of  Jesus  Christ — 4 

III.  And  for  yourselves,  it  is  fitting  that  you  too 
should  not  treat  lightly  the  youth  of  your  bishop, 
but  considering  the  power  of  God  the  Father,5  pay 

1  Probably  the  title  of  *  a  prisoner  of  Jesus  Christ.3     Cf. 
Eph.  iii.  i,  iv.  I,  Philem.  I,  9. 

2  Cf.  Eph.   4,   Rom.  2.     Here,  as  there,  Ignatius  'com 
pares  himself  to    some  gay  reveller ;    his  fetters  are  his 
holiday  decoration.' — LIGHTFOOT. 

3  Cf.  Rom.  inscr.  and  below,  c.  13.      On   Ignatius'  con 
ception  of  the  unity  of  the  Church,  see  Introd.  §  4.     The 
source  of  the  Church's  unity,  as  of  its  life,  is  Christ  Himself. 
See  below,  'union  with  Jesus  and  the  Father.'    Cf.  Trail,  n. 

4  '  The  bishop  is  here  regarded  as  the  dispenser  of  bless 
ings  ;  the  presbyters  as  the  representatives  and  guardians  of 
order.' — LIGHTFOOT.    The  sentence  is  unfinished. 

6  i.  e.  the  authority  bestowed  on  him  by  God. 


him  all  reverence.  For  in  like  manner  I  have  per 
ceived  that  the  holy  presbyters  have  not  presumed 
upon  his  seemingly  youthful  state,1  but  yield  place 
to  him  as  to  one  who  is  prudent  2  in  God,  or  rather 
not  to  him,  but  to  the  Father  of  Jesus  Christ,  even 
to  Him  Who  is  Bishop  of  all  men.  So  then  for  the 
honour  of  Him,  Who  desired  you,  it  is  fitting  that 
you  should  obey  without  dissembling.  For  it  is 
not  that  a  man  deceives  this  visible  bishop,3  but 
rather  that  he  tries  to  cheat  Him  Who  is  invisible. 
And  in  such  case  it  is  not  with  flesh  that  he  has 
to  do,  but  with  God  Who  knows  the  things  that 
are  in  secret. 

IV.  So  then  it  is  fitting  not  only  to  be  called, 
but  also  to  be  Christians.  Even  as  there  are  some 
who  have  the  name  '  bishop  '  always  on  their  lips, 
and  yet  in  everything  act  apart  from  him.  Now 

1  The  words  vecorepi/cV  rd^tv  have  been  variously  translated. 
The  rendering  given  above  follows  Pearson  and  Lightfoot. 
Others,  seeing  in  the  words  an    allusion  to  episcopacy  as 
a  newly-created  institution,  translate  '  not  recognizing  the 
seemingly   newly-created   office.'     But,  apart  from  the  fact 
that  the  language  of  Ignatius  lends  no  countenance  to  the 
view  that  he  regarded  episcopacy  as  a  new  institution,  the 
words  will  not  admit  of  this  rendering.     Zahn  renders  '  the 
ordination  of  a  young  man,'  but  this  puts  a  strain  on  the 
words.     The  translation  above  gives   good  sense.     Damas 
outwardly  appeared  youthful,  but  showed  a  wisdom  beyond 
his  years. 

2  The  reading  of  the  Armenian  Version  has  been  followed. 

3  A  reference  to  the  original  meaning  of  the  word,  '  over 
seer.'     Cf.  Rom.  9. 


such  seem  to  me  to  be  not  men  of  a  good  con 
science,  seeing  that  they  gather  not  together  in  a 
valid  way l  according  to  command. 

V.  So  then  the  things  of  this  life  have  an  end, 
and  there  are  set  together  before  us  the  two  issues 
of  life  and  death,  and  each  man  shall  surely  go  to 
his  own  place.2    For  just  as  there  are  two  coinages, 
the  one  of  God,  the  other  of  the  world,  and  each 
one  of  them  has  stamped  upon  it  its  own  image, 
the  unbelievers  the  stamp  of  this  world,  and  they 
that  in  love  believe,  the  image  of  God  the  Father 
through  Jesus  Christ,3  through  Whom  unless  we 
are   ready  of   our   own  accord    to    die  unto    His 
Passion,4  His  life  is  not  in  us — 5 

VI.  Seeing  therefore  that  in  the  persons  already 
mentioned  I  beheld  in  faith  your  whole  number, 
and  have  welcomed  them,  I  urge  you,  be  diligent 
to  do  all  things  in  godly  concord,  the  bishop  pre 
siding  after  the  pattern6  of  God,  and  the  presbyters 

1  Cf.  Smyrn.  8  note. 

2  Acts   i.  25.     Cf.    Clement  of  Rome,    c.    5,   and   Polyc. 
Phil.  9. 

3  Cf.  Heb.  i.  3,  where  Christ  is  Himself  the  'impress'  of 
the  Father's  '  essence.'     This  Divine  image  is  stamped  upon 
the  believer  by  his  union  with  Christ. 

4  Lit.  'die  into  His   Passion.'      The   Christian  becomes 
identified  with  Christ  in  His  Passion,  and  dies  with  Him. 
Cf.  the  language  of  St.  Paul  on  baptism  into  Christ  in  Rom. 
vi.  3,  Gal.  iii.  27  ;  also  Rom.  vi.  5,  Gal.  ii.  20. 

6  The  sentence  is  unfinished.  The  frequent  occurrence  of 
such  broken  sentences  is  an  indication  of  haste  in  the  com 
position  of  these  letters. 

6  Reading  rfaov,  which  has  the  support  of  the  Syriac  and 


after  the  pattern  of  the  council  of  the  Apostles, 
with  the  deacons  also  who  are  most  dear  to  me, 
seeing  they  are  entrusted  with  a  service  under1 
Jesus  Christ,  Who  before  the  ages  was  with  the 
Father,  and  appeared  at  the  end.2  Therefore  seek 
ing  to  conform  yourselves  to  the  ways  of  God,3 
reverence  one  another,  and  let  no  man  look  upon 
his  neighbour  after  the  flesh,  but  in  Jesus  Christ 
love  one  another  continually.  Let  there  be  nothing 

Armenian  Versions.  The  Greek  text,  Latin  Version,  and 
the  Longer  Greek  text  read  rd-rov,  « in  the  place  of.' 

There  are  two  types  of  authority  to  which  Ignatius  likens 
the  authority  of  the  bishop,  both  being  suggested  by  the 
memory  of  the  Lord's  earthly  ministry,  (i)  The  bishop 
represents  the  authority  of  the  Father,  to  whom  Christ,  as 
Son  of  Man,  during  His  earthly  life  yielded  obedience  (cf. 
Trail.  3,  Smyrn.  8,  and  present  passage).  (2)  The  bishop 
represents  the  authority  of  Christ  over  His  Apostles  (cf. 
Trail.  2).  In  Magn.  13  we  find  both  comparisons. 

The  presbyters  are  regularly  compared  to  the  Apostles. 
Cf.  Trail.  2,  3  ;  Smyrn.  8. 

The  deacons  are  also  compared  to  Jesus  Christ,  but  in  His 
relation  as  Son  of  Man  to  the  Father.  See  present  chapter 
and  Trail.  3  (note). 

The  word  'council'  is  suggested  by  primitive  Church 
custom.  The  bishop  sat  in  the  centre,  with  the  presbyters 
forming  a  'corona'  about  him  (cf.  c.  13).  Cf.  Trail.  3, 
Philad.  8.  In  App.  Const,  ii.  28  the  presbyters  are  called 
'the  council  of  the  Church.' 

1  Or  '  a  service  in  which  Jesus  Christ   ministered.'     (Cf. 
Matt.  xx.  28,  Mark  x.  45.    Cf.  Trail.  3.)     For  the  rendering 
given,  cf.  2  Cor.  xi.  23,  i  Tim.  iv.  6. 

2  Cf.  Heb.  i.  2. 

3  Cf.  Polyc.  I  note. 


among  you  which  shall  be  able  to  divide  you,  but 
be  united  with  the  bishop,  and  with  them  that  have 
the  rule  over  you  for  a  pattern  and  lesson  of 

VII.  As  therefore  the  Lord  did  nothing  without 
the  Father1  [being  united  with  Him2],  neither  of 
Himself  nor  by  the  Apostles,  so  neither  do  you 
act  in  anything  apart  from  the  bishop  and  pres 
byters.  Neither  attempt  to  persuade  yourselves 
that  anything  is  right  which  you  do  of  yourselves 
apart.  But  in  common  let  there  be  one  prayer, 
one  supplication,  one  mind,  one  hope,  in  love,  in 
joy  that  is  without  blame,  which3  is  Jesus  Christ 
—for  there  is  naught  better  than  He.  Gather  your 
selves  together,  all  of  you,  as  unto  one  shrine,  even 
God,4  as  unto  one  altar,  even  unto  One  Jesus 

1  Cf.  John  viii.  28.  2  cf  Smyrn.  3. 

3  The  relative  refers  to  the  whole  clause.     '  This  perfect 
unity  is  Jesus  Christ.5— LiGHTFOOT.     In  place  of  the  relative, 
which  the  Latin  Version  reads,  the  Greek  text  has  '  there  is 
one  Jesus  Christ.' 

4  The  rendering  given  follows  the  text  of  Lightfoot,  and 
adopts  his  reading  ©e^,  for  ©eoG  of  the  Greek  text  and  Latin 
Version;  '•  one  shrine,  even  God,'  instead  of '  one  shrine  of 
God.'  With  this  reading  God  is  compared  to  the  shrine,  and 
Jesus  Christ  to  the  altar-court,  through  which  in  the  Jewish 
Temple  access  was  gained  to  the  Holy  Place  and  Holy  of 
Holies.     The  idea  is  that  Christ  is  the  means  of  access  to 
the  Father.    The  whole  passage  is  an  appeal  for  unity,  which 
can  only  come  through  being  in  Jesus  Christ,  Who  is  Him 
self  in  the  Father.    For  the  word  altar,  cf.  Eph.  5,  Trail.  7, 
Philad.  4.     See  also  Heb.  xiii.  10.     For  the  whole  idea  of 
the  passage  cf.  Heb.  ix.  6  sq. 


Christ,  Who  proceeded  from  One  Father,1  and  is 
in  One  and  returned  to  One. 

VIII.  Be  not  deceived  by  strange  doctrines  nor 
by  ancient  fables,2  seeing  that  they  are  profitless. 
For  if,  until  now,  we  live  after  the  rule  of  Judaism,3 
we  confess  that  we  have  not  received  grace.4  For  the 
Divine  prophets  lived  a  life  in  accordance  with  Christ 
Jesus.5  For  this  cause  too  they  were  persecuted, 
being  inspired  by  [His]  grace,  so  that  unbelievers6 

1  The  reference  is  to  His  earthly  mission.     The  language 
of  this  passage  recalls  John  i.  18,  xiii.  3,  xvi.  28. 

2  Cf.  i  Tim.  i.  4,  iv.  7,  Tit.  i.  I4,iii.  9.    In  those  passages, 
as  also  in  the  present  passage,  the  reference  is  probably  to 
Rabbinic  fables  and  the  allegorical  interpretations  of  Jewish 
history.      See  Hort  (Judaistic  Christianity,  p.  135  sq.).     In 
the  expressions  of  this  epistle  and  of  that  to  the  Philadel- 
phians  there  is  nothing  which  necessarily  points  to  a  mixture 
of  Gnosticism   and  Judaism  as  Lightfoot  supposes.      See 
further  Add.  Note  i,  vol.  ii. 

-3  Cf.  Gal.  i.  13,  ii.  14.     By  'the  rule  of  Judaism/  Ignatius 
means  the  observance  of  Jewish  rites. 

4  Cf.  Gal.  ii.  21,  v.  4.  The  Pauline  contrast  of  'grace'  and 
'  law '  underlies  the  passage. 

6  For  these  references  to  the  Old  Testament  prophets  cf. 
Philad.  5,  8,  9.  These  Judaistic  teachers  set  up  the  authority 
of  the  Old  Testament  against  the  Gospel,  and  refused  to 
accept  anything  in  the  latter  which  was  not  prophesied  in 
the  former.  Ignatius  maintains  that  the  teaching  of  the 
prophets  anticipated,  and  was  completed  by,  the  perfect 
revelation  of  God  in  Christ.  For  this  Pauline  thought,  cf. 
Rom.  i.  2,  iii.  21.  Cf.  also  i  Pet.  i.  10,  and  the  present 
epistle  c.  9  (end). 

6  z.  e.  unbelievers  of  a  later  age,  who  would  be  struck  by 
the  fulfilment  of  prophecy. 

VOL.  I.  E 


might  be  fully  convinced  that  there  is  One  God 
Who  manifested  Himself  through  Jesus  Christ  His 
Son,  Who  is  His  Word,1  coming  forth  from  silence, 
Who  in  all  things  did  the  good  pleasure  of  Him 
that  sent  Him.2 

IX.  If  therefore  those  who  lived  in  ancient 
observances  attained  unto  newness  of  hope,  no 
longer  keeping  the  Sabbath,3  but  living  a  life  ruled 
by  the  Lord's  day,4  whereon  our  life  too  had  its 

1  The  Greek  text  and  Latin  version  both  read  'His  Eternal 
Word,  not  coming  forth  from  silence.5     The  reading  trans 
lated  is  that  of  the  Armenian  Version,  which  though  trans 
lated  from  the  Syriac,  is  ultimately  derived  from  a  very 
ancient  Greek  text.     It  occurs  also  in  the  earliest  known 
quotation  of  these  words  by  Severus  of  Antioch  (c.  513 — 518). 
It  suits  the  context  better  than  the  other  reading,  pointing 
a  contrast  with  the  preceding  phrases,  and  it  agrees  with 
Ignatius'  language  elsewhere  (cf.  Eph.  19).      Lightfoot  thinks 
that  the  other  reading  was  due  to  an  alteration  of  the  text  in 
the  fourth  century.     Both  the  Gnostics  and  Marcellus  used 
language  of  the  Divine  generation  of  the  Son  similar  to  that 
of  Ignatius.     But  the  resemblance  is  only  apparent,  as  the 
context  shows  that  Ignatius  is  speaking  of  the  coming  forth 
of  the  Word  in  the  Incarnation,  and  the  question  of  the  pre- 
existence  of  the  Word  does  not  come  within  the  scope  of  the 

2  Cf.  John  viii.  29 

3  Cf.   Coloss.  ii.   1 6.      They  are  not  to  fall  back  into  a 
Jewish   mode  of  life,  represented  here  by  the  Sabbatical 
observances  of  the  Judaistic  party. 

4  i.  e.  living  in  the  hopes  and  memories  which  the  day 
inspires   as   the   commemoration   of  Christ's   Resurrection. 
There  is  a  contrast  between  the  formal  observance  of  the 
Sabbath  and  the  new  spirit  which  marked  the  Christian 


rising  through  Him  and  His  death — which1  some 
deny,  a  mystery  through  which  we  have  received 
the  power  to  believe,  and  therefore  we  endure,  that 
we  may  be  found  disciples  of  Jesus  Christ,  our 
only  Teacher-r-how  shall  we  be  able  to  live  apart 
from  Him  ? 2  For  the  prophets  also  became  His 
disciples,  and  awaited  in  the  spirit  His  coming 
to  teach  them.  And  therefore  He,  for  Whom  they 
rightly  waited,  came  and  raised  them  from  the  dead.3 
X.  Let  us  not,  therefore,  be  insensible  to  His 

observance  of  the  weekly  festival  of  the  Resurrection.  For 
'the  Lord's  day,'  cf.  Barnabas,  15.  'We  keep  the  eighth  day 
for  rejoicing,  in  the  which  also  Jesus  rose  from  the  dead, 
and  having  been  manifested  ascended  into  the  Heavens.' 

1  The  passage  'which  .  .  .  our  only  teacher'  is  perhaps  best 
taken,  with  Zahn,  as  a  parenthesis.     It  is  a  passing  allusion 
to  the  Docetae.     In  letters    so   closely  connected  in  point 
of  time  as  the  Ignatian  Epistles,  it  is  only  natural  that  the 
writer  should  show  signs  of  the  thoughts  which  were  en 
gaging  his  attention  at  the  time.     The  danger  arising  from 
Docetism  gives  a  certain  colouring  to  the  whole  language  of 
Ignatius  upon  the  Passion  of  Christ,  even  where  he  is  not 
directly  assailing  the  error. 

2  Cf.  c.  10  and  Philad.  8,  9. 

3  The  belief  in  the  descent  of   Christ   into    Hades  and 
His    preaching    there,    based   probably   upon   the  passage 
i  Pet.  iii.   19,  20,  was  widespread  in  the  second  and  third 
centuries,  and  was  accepted  by  the  heretic  Marcion  (Iren.  I. 
27,  2).     The  clause  '  He  descended  into  Hell'  is  not  found 
in  any  baptismal  creed  before  that  of  Aquileia,  quoted  by 
Rufinus,  circa  400  A.D.,  though  it  may  go  back  much  earlier 
(Swete,  Apostle?  Creed,  pp.  61,  62).      A   similar    clause  is 
found  in  the  Dated  Creed  of  Sirmium  in  359  A.D. 


kindness.  For  if  He  should  follow  us  in  acting 
according  to  our  acts,  we  are  indeed  undone. 
Therefore,  becoming  His  disciples,  let  us  learn  to 
live  in  a  way  befitting  Christianity.  For  he  who 
is  called  by  any  other  name  besides,  this,  is  not  of 
God.  Lay  aside,  then,  the  evil  leaven  1  which  has 
become  stale 2  and  bitter,  and  turn  to  the  new 
leaven,3  which  is  Jesus  Christ.  Be  salted  in  Him,4 
that  no  one  among  you  wax  corrupt,  for  by  your 
savour  you  shall  be  proved.  It  is  outrageous  to 
utter  the  name  of  Jesus  Christ  and  live  in  Judaism. 
For  Christianity  believed  not  in  Judaism,  but 
Judaism  in  Christianity,  in  which  people  of  every 
tongue  believed  and  were  gathered  unto  God. 

XL  I  write  not  this,  my  beloved,  because  I  have 
learned  that  some  of  you  are  in  such  evil  case,  but 
as  one  who  is  less  than  you,  I  desire  to  put  you 
on  your  guard  that  you  fall  not  into  the  snares  of 
vain  teaching,  but  be  fully  convinced  of5  the  birth 
and  passion  and  resurrection,  which  came  to  pass 
in  the  time  of  the  government  of  Pontius  Pilate6 — 

1  Cf.  i  Cor.  v.  7.  2  Cf.  for  the  idea,  Heb.  viii.  13. 

3  Matt.  xiii.  33,  Luke  xiii.  21. 

4  Matt.  v.  13,  Mark  ix.  50,  Luke  xiv.  34.     Cf.  Lev.  ii.  13. 

6  This  confession,  couched  in  an  anti-Docetic  form,  may 
indicate  that  Ignatius  feared  the  danger  of  Docetism  at 
Magnesia.  Or  possibly  he  is  thinking  of  the  dangers  threat 
ening  other  churches,  and  so  gives  an  anticipatory  warning 
to  the  Magnesians. 

6  The  date  of  the  Crucifixion  is  inserted  here,  as  in  the 
Creed,  in  order  to  emphasize  the  historical  truth  of  the 


events  which  truly  and  certainly  were  brought  to 
pass  by  Jesus  Christ,  our  Hope,  from  which  Hope 
may  none  of  you  ever  go  astray. 

XII.  May  I  have  joy  of  you  in  all  things,  if  I 
be  worthy.     For  even  though  I  am  a  prisoner,  I 
am  nothing  in  comparison  with  one  of  you  who 
are  free.     I  know  that  you  are  not  puffed  up,  for 
you  have  Jesus  Christ  within  yourselves.1     And  I 
know  that  when  I  praise  you,  you  feel  the  greater 
shame,  for  it  is  written,  '  The  righteous  man  is  his 
own  accuser!* 

XIII.  Be  diligent  therefore  to  be  confirmed  in 
the  decrees3  of  the  Lord  and  the  Apostles,  that  in 
everything,  which  you  do,  you  may  be  prospered  4 
in  flesh  and  spirit,  by  faith  and  love,  in  the  Son 
and   Father  and  in  the  Spirit,5  in    the  beginning 
and   in   the  end,  along  with  your   bishop  who   is 
worthy  of  all  honour,  and  the  fitly-woven  spiritual 
coronal6  of  your  presbytery,  and  the  deacons  who 
are  according  to  the  mind  of  God.     Submit  your 
selves  to  the  bishop  and  to  one  another,  as  Jesus 

fact,  and  connect  it  with  the  general  history  of  the  period. 
Tacitus,  in  his  account  of  the  Christians,  mentions  Pilate 
(Ann.  xv.  44). 

1  Cf.  2  Cor.  xiii.  5. 

2  Prov.xviii.  17.   LXX.    The  Hebrew  gives  quite  a  different 

3  The  word  for  '  decrees '  occurs  in  Acts  xvi.  4. 

4  An  allusion  to  Ps.  i.  3.     LXX. 

6  For  the  order,  cf.  2  Cor.  xiii.  13. 
6  See  note  on  c.  6. 


Christ  [was  subject]  to  the  Father  [after  the  flesh], 
and  the  Apostles  to  Christ  and  the  Father,  that 
there  may  be  union  both  of  flesh  and  spirit.1 

XIV.  Knowing  that  you  are  full  of  God,  I  have 
exhorted    you   briefly.      Remember    me    in    your 
prayers,  that  I  may  attain  unto  God.     Remember 
too  the  Church  which  is  in  Syria,  whereof  I  am 
not  worthy  to  be  called  a  member.      For  I  have 
need   of   your    united    prayer    in    God,    and  your 
love,  that  the  Church  in   Syria   may  be   granted 
the  refreshing  dew  of  your  fervent  supplication. 

XV.  The  Ephesians  from   Smyrna  salute  you, 
whence  also  I  am  writing  to  you,  for  they  have 
come  hither  for  God's  glory,  even  as  yourselves. 
In  every  way  they  have  refreshed  me,  with  Poly- 
carp,  Bishop  of  Smyrna.    The  rest  of  the  churches, 
too,   salute  you  in  the   honour  which   is  of  Jesus 
Christ.     Farewell  in  godly  peace,  keeping  a  stead 
fast  spirit,  which2  is  Jesus  Christ. 

1  Cf.  c.  i  (note),  and  see  Introd.  §  4. 

2  The  relative  probably  refers  to  the  whole  clause  and  the 
idea  of  concord  prominent  in  it. 


[Tralles  was  situated  on  the  high-road  which  passes  from 
Ephesus  through  Magnesia  and  Laodicea  to  the  East.  It 
was  about  seventeen  or  eighteen  miles  from  Magnesia,  which 
is  almost  midway  between  Ephesus  and  Tralles.  Like  Mag 
nesia,  Tralles  probably  owed  its  Christianity  to  the  preaching 
of  St.  Paul's  disciples.  The  Trallians  had  sent  their  bishop 
to  meet  Ignatius  at  Smyrna,  and  he  writes  to  thank  them. 
He  takes  occasion  to  warn  them  against  false  teaching  and 
separatism,  without,  however,  accusing  them  personally  of 
these  errors.  The  main  part  of  the  epistle  (cc.  6 — n)  con 
tains  a  strong  protest  against  a  Docetic  error,  of  which  we  see 
a  more  strongly-developed  form  in  the  heresy  attacked  in  the 
Epistle  to  the  Smyrnaeans.  At  the  same  time  he  urges  upon 
them  the  duty  of  outward  unity  and  obedience  to  their 
Church  officers,  as  their  best  security  against  error.  Of 
special  interest  in  this  connection  is  c.  7.  There  is  no  men 
tion  of  the  Judaic  error  condemned  in  the  Epistle  to  the 

IGNATIUS,  who  is  also  Theophorus,  to  her  that  is 
beloved  by  God,  the  Father  of  Jesus  Christ,  to  the 
holy  Church  which  is  at  Tralles  in  Asia,1  elect  and 
worthy  of  God,  having  peace  in  flesh  and  spirit2 

*  /.  e.  the  Roman  province  of  Asia. 

2  The  text  is  in  some  confusion,  the  Greek  text  and  Arme 
nian  Versions  reading  *  blood '  for  '  spirit.'  Probably,  how- 



through  the  passion  of  Jesus  Christ,  Who  is  our 
hope  through  the  resurrection  unto  Him  ;  which 
Church  I  salute  in  the  fulness  of  God,  after  the 
Apostolic  manner,1  and  bid  it  heartiest  greeting. 

I.  I  have  learned  that  you  exhibit  a  mind,  which 
is  blameless  and  unwavering  in  patient  endurance, 
not  from  habit  but  naturally.     For  so  your  bishop, 
Polybius,   has  informed   me,   who    by  the  will   of 
God  and  Jesus  Christ  has  been  with  me  at  Smyrna, 
and  has  so  greatly  shared  my  joy  in  my  bonds  in 
Christ   Jesus,  that   in  him   I   beheld   your  whole 
number.     So  then  I  welcomed  your  godly  kindness 
manifested  through  him,  and  gave  glory  to  God, 
when  I  found  you  to  be,  as  I  had  learned,  followers 
of  God. 

II.  For  whenever  you  are  subject  to  the  bishop 
as  unto  Jesus  Christ,  you  appear  to  me  to  be  living 
not  the  ordinary  life  of  men,  but  after  the  manner 
of  the  life  of  Jesus  Christ,2  Who  died  for  our  sakes, 
that   believing    in    His    death   you    might    escape 
death.     It  is  necessary   therefore  that  you  should 
act,    as    indeed    you   do,    in    nothing   without  the 
bishop.     But  be  subject  also  to  the  presbytery,3  as 

ever,  the  longer  Greek  recension  has  preserved  the  correct 
reading,  '  spirit.'  The  Armenian  version  omits  '  through  the 
passion.'  This  would  give  the  sense  '  being  at  peace  through 
faith  in,  and  union  with,  the  flesh  and  spirit  of  Jesus  Christ, 

1  2.  e.  in  the  Apostolic  epistles. 

2  Cf.  Magn.  7. 

3  On  this  comparison  see  note  on  Magn.  6, 


unto  the  Apostles  of  Jesus  Christ  our  Hope.  For 
if  we  live  in  Him  we  shall  be  found  [in  Him].1 
Those,  too,  who  are  deacons  of  the  mysteries2  of 
Jesus  Christ  must  in  every  way  be  pleasing  unto 
all.  For  they  are  not  deacons  of  meats  and  drinks,3 
but  are  servants  of  the  Church  of  God.  So  then 
they  must  be  on  their  guard  against  blame4  as 
against  fire. 

III.  In  like  manner  6  let  all  reverence  the  deacons 
as  Jesus  Christ,6  as  also  the  bishop,  [regarding  him] 
as  a  type  of  the  Father,7  and  the  presbyters  as  the 

1  Lightfoot's  reading  has  been  followed. 

2  This  probably  refers  to  their  work  as  teachers,  rather 
than  to  their  assistance  at  the  Eucharist.     St.  Paul  similarly 
uses  '  mystery '  in  the  sense  of  a  revealed  truth.'     (Cf.  e.g. 
Rom.  xvi.   25.)     The  passage  which  follows   treats  of  the 
duties  of  the  deacon's  office,  not  of  the  respect  which  is  due 
to  him. 

3  The  original  duties  of  the  deacon's  office  (Acts  vi.  2) 
involved  a  considerable  amount  of  attention  to  mere  external 
business,  such  as  the  distribution  of  alms.     Yet  there  was  a 
higher  aspect   of  the  office,  as  from  the  first  we  find  the 
deacons  engaged  in  teaching  (cf.  Acts  viii.).  It  is  this  higher 
aspect  which  Ignatius  emphasizes. 

4  Cf.  I  Tim.  iii.  10. 

5  i.e.  there  must  be  mutual  consideration.     The  deacon 
must  regard  the  people's  wishes ;  the  people  must  respect 
the  deacon's  office. 

6  On  this  comparison  cf.  Magn.  6,  note.    Ignatius  is  think 
ing  of  the  relation  to  the  Father  of  Jesus  Christ  as  Son  of 
Man,  '  Who  came  not  to  be  ministered  unto,  but  to  minister ' 
(Matt.  xx.  28). 

7  Cf.  Magn.  6,  note.     The  whole  passage  from  *  deacons 5 


Council  of  God  and  the  band  of  the  Apostles.1 
Without  these  there  is  no  church  deserving  of  the 
name.2  Concerning  these  matters  I  am  persuaded 
that  you  are  thus  disposed.  For  I  have  received, 
and  still  have  with  me,  in  the  person  of  your  bishop, 
the  pattern  of  your  love.  His  very  demeanour  is 
a  striking  lesson,  and  his  gentleness  is  power — a 
man  whom  I  think  even  those  who  are  without 
God  revere.  It  is  for  love  of  you  that  I  thus 
refrain,  although  I  might  have  spoken  of  this  with 
greater  urgency.  But  I  thought  not  myself  suffi 
cient  for  this  task  of  enjoining  you,  condemned 
man  that  I  am,  as  though  I  were  an  apostle. 

IV.  I  have  many  thoughts  in  God.  But  I  keep 
myself  within  bounds,  that  my  boasting  may  not 
prove  my  ruin.  For  now  must  I  needs  fear  the 
more,  and  not  give  heed  unto  them  that  are  puffing 
me  up.  For  they  who  speak  to  me3  act  as  a 

to  *  Father '  exhibits  great  variation  of  text.  In  the  first 
clause  the  Latin  Version  reads  'as  the  commandment  of 
Jesus  Christ.'  In  place  of  the  word  '  type,'  which  is  read 
by  the  Syrian  version  and  the  longer  Greek  recension,  the 
Greek  text  and  Latin  version  read  '  Son.' 

1  For  the  ideas  which  suggested  this  twofold  comparison 
of  the  presbyters,  see  Magn.  6,  note.   The  word  '  council '  is 
suggested  by  the   arrangements   of  the  churches    in   early 
times,  while  the  word  *  band '  is  suggested  by  the  earthly 
ministry  of  the  Lord  and  His  Apostles. 

2  On   the   Ignatian  conception  of  the  ministry  and  the 
unity  of  the  Church,  see  Introd.  §  4. 

3  Ignatius  suppresses  the  nattering  words  which  he  fears 


scourge  to  me.  For  I  welcome  suffering,  yet  I 
know  not  whether  I  am  worthy.  For  the  envy  of 
Satan  is  not  visible  to  the  eyes  of  many,1  but  it 
makes  war  on  me  [the  more].  I  desire  therefore 
gentleness,  by  which  the  prince  of  this  world  is 

V.  Am  I  not  able  to  write  unto  you  heavenly 
things  ?     But  I  fear  lest  I  may  inflict  harm  upon 
you,  since  you  are  babes.2     Indeed  bear  with  me, 
lest  being  unable  to  contain  them,  you  be  choked. 
For  even  though  I  am  in  bonds  and  am  able  to 
understand  3  heavenly  things  and  the  ordering  of 
angels  and  the  musterings  of  heavenly  rulers,  things 
visible  and  invisible,  yet  am  I  not  thereby  already 
a  disciple.     For  we  suffer  lack  of  many  things,  that 
we  may  not  come  short  of  God. 

VI.  I  urge  you  therefore,  yet  not  I,  but  the  love  of 
Jesus  Christ,  use  only  Christian  food,  and  abstain 
from  strange  herbage,4  which  is  heresy.     For  they 
even  mingle  poison5  with  Jesus  Christ,  by  their  false 

may  'puff  him  up.'  It  is  possible,  however,  that  some  words 
may  have  fallen  out. 

1  i.  e.  those  who  were  seeking  to  procure  a  respite.     (Cf. 
Rom.  7.)  2  i  Cor.  iii.  I,  2. 

3  The  interest  in  angelology  was  a  characteristic  of  the 
Jews  in  the  apostolic  and  post-apostolic  ages.     From  them 
it  spread  to  Judaizing  Christians  and  to  Christians  generally. 
Cf.  Eph.  i.  20,  21,  Col.  i.  1 6,  ii.  18.     Cf.  Smyrn.  6. 

4  Cf.  Eph.  10,  Philad.  3. 

6  The  text  is  corrupt.     The  longer  Greek  recension  sug 
gests  the  emended  reading  which  has  been  here  translated. 


professions  of  honesty,  giving  as  it  were  a  deadly 
drug  along  with  honied  wine,  and  he  that  is  ignor 
ant  of  this  fearlessly  drinks  in  death  with  fatal 

VII.  Be  on  your  guard  then  against  such  per 
sons.     And  this  will  be,  if  you  are  not  puffed  up, 
and  if  you  are  inseparable  from  [God,  even]  Jesus 
Christ  and  the  bishop  and  the'  commandments  of 
the  Apostles.1     He  that  is  within  the  precincts  of 
the  altar  2  is  pure,  he  that  is  without  the  precincts 
of  the  altar  is  not  pure.     That  is,  he  who  acts  in 
anything  apart  from  the  bishop  and  the  presbytery 
and  the  deacons  is  not  pure  in  conscience. 

VIII.  I  write  not  this,  because  I  have  learned 
that  any  such  evil  has  happened  among  you,  but  I 

The  metaphor  is  that  of  a  physician  who  infuses  poison 
into  his  drugs,  and  disguises  them  by  giving  to  them  a  sweet 

1  These   last  words   in  this  connection  almost  certainly 
refer  to   the  institution  of  the  episcopate.      Lightfoot  has 
shown  (PhilippianS)  p.  212  sq.)  that  early  tradition  supports 
the  view  that  the  establishment  of  episcopacy  in  Asia  Minor 
was  largely  the  work  of  St.  John.     Irenaeus  (iii.  3,  4)  says  of 
Polycarp  that  he  was  appointed  by  apostles  as  bishop  of  the 
Church  in  Smyrna,  certainly  meaning  to  include  St.  John 
in  the  word  '  apostles.' 

2  See  note  Eph.  5.     The  figure  is  derived  from  the  Jewish 
tabernacle  or  temple.     The  man  who  cuts  himself  off  from 
the  congregation  of  the  faithful  and  the  common  sacrifices 
becomes  as  a  Gentile  and  outcast.   (Cf.  Matt,  xviii.  17.)  The 
congregation  is  here  represented  as  gathered  together  under 
its  proper  officers. 


keep  guard  over  you  beforehand,  since  you  are  my 
beloved,  and  I  foresee  the  snares  of  the  devil.  Take 
up  then  the  armour  of  gentleness  and  renew  your 
selves  in  faith,1  which  is  the  flesh  of  the  Lord,  and 
in  love,  which  is  the  blood  of  Jesus  Christ.  Let  no 
one  among  you  have  aught  against  his  neighbour. 
Give  not  occasion  to  the  heathen,  that  the  godly 
multitude  be  not  evil  spoken  of  on  account  of  a 
few  foolish  men.  For  '  Woe-  unto  him  through 
whom  My  Name  is  idly  blasphemed  before  some.' 

IX.  Stop  your  ears  then  when  any  one  speaks 
'unto  you  apart  from  Jesus  Christ,  Who  is  of  the 
race  of  David,  the  child  of  Mary,  Who  was  truly3 
born,  and  ate  and  drank,  was  truly  persecuted  under 

1  Faith  is  said  to  be  the  flesh  of  Christ,  because  it  iden 
tifies  itself  with  the  incarnate  Christ,  and  rests  upon  the 
facts  of  His  outward  manifestation  (cf,  Philad.  5).     Love  is 
said  to  be  the  blood  of  Christ,  because  Christ's  death  and 
sacrifice  are  the  crowning  expression  of  love,  and  the  life 
which  results  from   them   is  a  life  of  love.     Cf.    Rom.    7. 
The  words  '  flesh '  and  '  blood '  are  doubtless  suggested  by 
the  Eucharist  both  here  and  in  Philad.  5. 

2  A  free  quotation  of  Isaiah  lii.  5.     The  words  are  quoted 
in  the  same  form  in  Polyc.,  Phil.  10. 

3  Docetism  denied  the  reality  of  Christ's  human  life  and 
sufferings.     To  these  heretics  it  seemed  impossible  to  believe 
that  God  could  have   come   into   such   close  contact  with 
matter  as  was  involved  in  the  Incarnation.     Hence  the  out 
ward,  earthly  manifestation  of  Christ  was  explained  away  as 
an  apparition.     This   explains   Ignatius'   insistence   on  the 
reality  of  the  birth,  passion  and  resurrection   of  the  Lord. 
The  word  'truly'  is  a  watchword  in  this  connection.    (See 
Add.  Note  I,  vol.  ii.) 


Pontius  Pilate,  was  truly  crucified  and  died,  before 
the  eyes  of  those  in  heaven  and  those  on  earth  and 
those  under  the  earth  ; l  Who  also  was  truly  raised 
from  the  dead,  since  His  Father  raised  Him  up, 
Who  in  like  manner  will  also  raise  up  us  who 
believe  on  Him — even  His  Father  will  raise  us  in 
Christ  Jesus,  apart  from  Whom  we  have  not  that 
life,  which  is  life  indeed. 

X.  But  if   it  be,  as  some  godless  men,  that  is, 
unbelievers,  assert,  that  He  suffered  in  semblance 
— it    is  they  who  are  semblance  2 — why  am    I  in 
bonds  ?     Why  moreover  do  I  pray  that  I  may  fight 
with  the  wild  beasts?3     Then  I  die   for  naught. 
Then  I  lie  against  the  Lord. 

XI.  Flee  therefore  those  evil  offshoots  which  bear 
deadly  fruit,  whereof  if  a  man  taste,  he  straightway 
dies.     For  these  are  not  a  planting  of  the  Father.4 
For  if  they  were,  they  would  have  been  seen  to 
be  branches  of  the  Cross,5  and  their  fruit  would 

1  Cf.  Phil.  ii.  10. 

2  Cf.  Smyrn.  2,  4. 

3  Cf.  I  Cor.  xv.  32.     The  whole  passage  is  modelled  on 
St.  Paul's  words. 

4  Cf.  Matt.  xv.  13. 

6  For  the  metaphor,  cf.  Smyrn.  i.  '  The  symbolism  of  the 
tree  of  life  planted  in  Paradise,  as  referring  to  the  Cross  of 
Christ,  dates  from  a  very  early  time.'— LIGHTFOOT.  The 
language  of  Rev.  xxii.  I,  2,  would  render  the  application  easy. 
The  fine  hymn,  attributed  to  Venantius  Fortunatus,  '  Pange 
lingua  gloriosi,'  exhibits  the  same  imagery,  and  contains  an 
allusion  to  the  tradition  that  the  tree  from  which  the  Cross 
was  taken  sprang  from  the  seed  of  the  Tree  of  Life. 


have  been  incorruptible.  For  through  His  Cross 
by  His  Passion  He  calls  us  unto  Him,  being  His 
members.  It  is  not  possible  then  that  a  head  should 
be  born  without  members,1  since  God  promises 
union,  which  union  is  Himself. 

XII.  I  salute  you  from  Smyrna,  together  with 
the  Churches  of  God  2  now  present  with  me,  men 
who  have  refreshed  me  in  every  way  both  in  flesh 
and  spirit.  My  bonds  exhort  you,  which  I  wear  for 
Jesus  Christ's  sake,  asking  that  I  may  attain  unto 
God.  Abide  in  your  concord  and  in  your  prayer 
with  one  another.  For  it  is  meet  that  you  should 
severally,  and  especially  the  presbyters,  refresh  the 
bishop  to  the  honour  of  the  Father  and  [to  the 
honour]  of  Jesus  Christ  and  the  Apostles.  I  pray 
that  you  may  give  heed  to  me  in  love,  lest  by 
having  written  unto  you  I  become  a  testimony 
against  you.  Moreover,  pray  for  me  too,  for  I 

De  parentis  protoplast! 
Fraude  facta  condolens, 
Quando  pomi  noxialis 
Morsu  in  mortem  corruit, 
Ipse  lignum  tune  notavit 
Damna  ligni  ut  solveret. 

1  The  denial  of  the  Passion  by  these  heretics  cut  them  off 
from  Christ  and  from  the  Divine  ideal  of  unity  appointed  by 
God  through  the  Cross.     Ignatius  is  full  of  the  thought  and 
language  of  St.  Paul,  and  especially  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Ephesians.     (Cf.  also  John  xvii.  21 — 23.) 

2  i.  e.  present  in  the  persons  of  their  representatives.     (Cf. 
Eph.  i,  Magn.  2.) 


have  need  of  your  love  in  the  mercy  of  God,  that  I 
may  be  deemed  worthy  of  the  lot  which  I  eagerly 
press  on  to  attain,  that  I  be  not  found  reprobate. 

XIII.  The  love  of  the  Smyrnaeans  and  the 
Ephesians  salutes  you.  Remember  in  your  prayers 
the  Church  in  Syria,  whereof  I  am  not  worthy  to 
be  called  a  member,  since  I  am  the  very  last  of 
them.  Farewell  in  Jesus  Christ,  submitting  to  the 
bishop  as  unto  the  commandment,1  likewise  also 
to  the  presbytery,  and  severally  love  one  another 
with  an  undivided  heart.  My  spirit  devotes  itself 
for  you,2  not  only  now  but  also  whenever  I  attain 
unto  God.  For  I  am  still  in  danger.3  But  the 
Father  is  faithful  in  Jesus  Christ  to  fulfil  my 
petition  and  yours.  In  Him  may  we  be  found 

1  Used  absolutely  for  God's  commandment.     They  are  to 
obey  the  bishop  as  they  are  to  obey  God. 

2  Cf.  Eph.  8,  note. 

3  He  still  fears  that  his  own  weakness,  or  the  efforts  of 
others  to  procure  his  respite,  may  rob  him  of  the  martyr's 

END   OF  VOL.   I. 

Richard  day  S>  Sons,  Limited,  London  and  Bungay. 


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